How many five-baggers did you bag this year? How about ten-baggers? Or even a twenty-bagger?

It’s what we love about small caps: the exhilarating feeling when you’re on a skyrocketing stock — a feeling you just don’t get with the boring old ASX-200.

The ranks of ASX small caps produced at least eight ten-baggers this year and even a twenty-bagger.

Body shape app Myfiziq (ASX:MYQ) closed at 93c on Friday — up more than 2000 per cent on the 4c it was fetching at the start of January.

Myfiziq gained more than 2000 per cent this year. Source:
Myfiziq gained more than 2000 per cent this year. Source:

This week we analysed the year’s 100 biggest gainers among ASX small caps — stocks with a market cap of $300 million or less.

The analysis — which looks at share price movement from the start January to December 12 — confirms that resources are well and truly back.

Junior explorers accounted for two-thirds of the best-returning 100 small cap stocks.

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Tech and health-related stocks were well out of the running this year. Tech accounted for about 13 per cent of the top 100 and health/biotech about 11 per cent.

Cannabis saved the health sector from complete embarrassment.

Not including pot stocks, health and biotech managed only five companies in the top 100 performers. And that includes MyFiziq.

Battery metals for the win

Battery metals were undoubtedly the theme of the year — particularly cobalt.

One quarter of the top 100 small caps had exposure to battery metals such as cobalt and lithium that are in high demand from electric car battery makers.

If you throw in copper — which is used in great amounts for electric car motors and recharge stations — about 30 per cent of the top 100 were driven by the Elon Musk factor.

Among the cobalt stocks, Collerina Cobalt (ASX:CLL) is up a glorious 1400 per cent for the year, Jervois Mining (ASX:JRV) has gained more than 1300 per cent and European Cobalt (ASX:EUC) has climbed 1100 per cent.

All that glitters

Gold explorers were the next best performing theme, accounting for 17 of the top 100.

Of these, seven were Pilbara gold nugget explorers.

An Australian gold nugget rush kicked off July 13 when Artemis Resources (ASX:ARV) and Canadian partner Novo Resources made a legendary announcement regarding a gold nugget find at their Purdy’s Reward site in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The mention of “Witwatersrand-style” and “conglomerate-hosted” gold has had investors salivating ever since. (Witwatersrand refers to the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa — a geological formation that houses the world’s biggest known gold reserves).

In 2018 we will find out if the rush merits the fuss. Meantime, investors are making hay.

Artemis has fallen considerably from its 2017 high of 59c — down to 33.5c on Friday. But it was still up 625 per cent for the year when we did our analysis earlier this week (and in fact was up 738 per cent at Friday’s close).

Other winning Pilbara explorers include Southern Hemisphere (ASX:SUH) up more than 400 per cent and De Grey (ASX:DEG) with a 360 per cent gain.

Crypto and blockchain big in tech

As investors shifted back into resources, tech wilted somewhat — with the exception of crypto and blockchain stocks.

Blockchain is a technology that provides a public ledger of transactions used to underpin “cryptocurrencies” such as bitcoin.

The price of bitcoin is up more than 1600 per cent for the year — and any ASX stocks with a whiff of related technology have gone with it.

Tech plays accounted for 13 of the top 100 — including three related to blockchain or cryptocurrency.

Yojee (ASX:YOJ) and DigitalX (ASX:DCC) are up around 400 per cent for the year, while Byte Power (ASX:BPG) is up some 700 per cent.

Interestingly there were no other consistent tech trends in the top 100 such as social media or Internet of Things.

The only other two big tech movers were video networker Elsight (ASX:ELS) and educational gamer Kneomedia (ASX:KNM) — both up around 650 per cent.

Pot’s hot

It must be depressing for all those Aussie biotechs chasing cancer cures… but when it came to the health sector, investors were far more interested this year in medicinal cannabis.

Six of the top 100 small caps were pot stocks.

Queensland Bauxite (ASX:QBL) shareholders are sitting on a ten-bagger following the company’s move into hemp seed food.

Australia legalised hemp seed foods in November, and Bauxite’s Medical Cannabis subsidiary has been an aggressive first-mover.

Cann Group (ASX:CAN) recently raised $60 million to find local marijuana production because it expects Australia to soon allow cannabis exports.

Local pot stocks are salivating at the thoughts of exporting high-quality Aussie pot to Canada — which is expected to legalise recreational marijuana from July.

Cann Group is up 700 per cent for the year.

Feeding China’s babies

China-bound infant formula was the other big trend among 2017’s top 100 gaining ASX small caps.

Five of the top 100 were in the game, attracted by high demand in China for top quality Aussie baby food.

Chinese demand for Australian infant formula is so high that prices can reach more than five times the local price.

China’s most popular shopping site, Tmall, sells an 800g tin of Bubs organic infant milk powder for 799 yuan (roughly $150) compared to just $33 in Australia.

Bubs Australia (ASX:BUB) is up more than 1000 per cent since transforming from Hillcrest Litigation Services into a baby formula exporter at the start of the year.

Rivals Wattle Health (ASX:WHA), Bioxyne (ASX:BXN) and Jatenergy (ASX:JAT) have also made strong gains.

Diagou retailer AuMake (ASX:AU8) — which focuses on Aussie Chinese sending products back home — has gifted shareholders with a stunning nine-fold return on its 8c offer price in little more than two months.

AuMake has been quick to take advantage of its share price growth, now offering new shares at 63c — almost eight times its initial public offering price.

Here are 2017’s 100 best performing ASX Small Caps to Dec 12:

ASX code Name 2017 gain (Jan 1-Dec 12) Theme Market Cap
3DP POINTERRA 3.6 Tech - 3D data 42991848
CLL COLLERINA COBALT 14.000001 Battery Metals 80386504
JRV JERVOIS MINING 13.558503 Battery Metals 121157624
EUC EUROPEAN COBALT 11.5 Battery Metals 152339472
RIE RIEDEL RESOURCES 10.215282 Battery Metals 33519028
AUZ AUSTRALIAN MINES 9.999999 Battery Metals 235646720
RMI RESOURCE MINING CORP 7.5 Battery Metals 10073090
GED GOLDEN DEEPS 7 Battery Metals 7981704
AGY ARGOSY MINERALS 6.931035 Battery Metals 205504208
ARL ARDEA RESOURCES 6.05 Battery Metals 113792952
MEI METEORIC RESOURCES NL 5.916666 Battery Metals 44446976
CLA CELSIUS RESOURCES 5.428572 Battery Metals 78970024
LPD LEPIDICO 3.868711 Battery Metals 143626048
GME GME RESOURCES 3.814815 Battery Metals 60267528
ARE ARGONAUT RESOURCES NL 3.571429 Battery Metals 37442044
CCZ CASTILLO COPPER 2.769231 Battery Metals 28406254
QUR QUANTUM RESOURCES 2.642857 Battery Metals 35541480
CFE CAPE LAMBERT RESOURCES 2.538461 Battery metals 40053116
EUR EUROPEAN LITHIUM 2.416667 Battery Metals 105797552
GSC GLOBAL GEOSCIENCE 2.409091 Battery Metals 294949152
COB COBALT BLUE HOLDINGS 2.05 Battery Metals 71804472
ASN ANSON RESOURCES 2.035714 Battery Metals 29031290
TAW TAWANA RESOURCES NL 2 Battery Metals 173976928
LKE LAKE RESOURCES NL 1.966102 Battery Metals 40887528
GBR GREAT BOULDER RESOURCES 1.96 Battery Metals 26076068
CRL COMET RESOURCES 1.75 Battery Metals 15004000
RLC REEDY LAGOON CORP 1.573183 Battery Metals 8186463
BPG BYTE POWER GROUP 7 Blockchain / crypto 17880560
YOJ YOJEE 4.625 Blockchain / crypto 153998992
DCC DIGITALX 3.893617 Blockchain / crypto 109645224
CPH CRESO PHARMA 2.851064 Cannabis 98807160
AC8 AUSCANN GROUP HOLDINGS 2.0625 Cannabis 199458992
CAN CANN GROUP 7.3 Cannabis 292554016
THC HYDROPONICS CO/THE 2.45 Cannabis 82239000
SCU STEMCELL UNITED 2 Cannabis 17473582
QBL QUEENSLAND BAUXITE 9.666667 Cannabis 96985152
AU8 AUMAKE INTERNATIONAL 9 China-bound infant formula 173458592
BXN BIOXYNE 6.063493 China-bound infant formula 56211752
WHA WATTLE HEALTH AUSTRALIA 7.1 China-bound infant formula 245513920
JAT JATENERGY 4.490197 China-bound infant formula 21064728
BUB BUBS AUSTRALIA 10.775 China-bound infant formula 215316192
CKA COKAL 1.95 Coal 37630376
AL8 ALDERAN RESOURCES 6.75 Copper 179220080
ODM ODIN METALS 3.363636 Copper 33292640
KLH KALIA 2 Copper 29262710
VAL VALOR RESOURCES 2 Copper 26432386
DRG DRAIG RESOURCES 8.090909 Gold 70610104
ORM ORION METALS 5.928571 Gold 37354452
BCN BEACON MINERALS 4.230772 Gold 34237340
MAU MAGNETIC RESOURCES NL 2.859649 Gold 32586774
OKU OKLO RESOURCES 2.227273 Gold 108776728
AIV ACTIVEX 1.666667 Gold 28356544
EHX EHR RESOURCES 2.111111 Gold 14777823
LFR LONGFORD RESOURCES 2.333333 Gold 38110136
EQE EQUUS MINING 1.692308 Gold 26137472
ZNO ZOONO GROUP 2.809524 Health/Biotech 52163784
MYQ MYFIZIQ 18.777777 Health/Biotech 70344312
NEU NEUREN PHARMACEUTICALS 1.571429 Health/Biotech 293297248
PAB PATRYS 2.666667 Health/Biotech 17149108
IVX INVION 2 Health/Biotech 25235792
COI COMET RIDGE 2.538462 Oil and Gas 154910976
TEG TRIANGLE ENERGY GLOBAL 2.67647 Oil and Gas 24103286
BUL BLUE ENERGY 2.809524 Oil and Gas 182702704
GEV GLOBAL ENERGY VENTURES 2.777778 Oil and Gas 91589136
REY REY RESOURCES 2.470588 Oil and Gas 62686100
FDM FREEDOM OIL AND GAS 2.214286 Oil and Gas 214650032
PPY PAPYRUS AUSTRALIA 2.333333 Banana veneer 4188728.5
ACK AUSTOCK GROUP 1.57 Insurance 160036640
GPS GPS ALLIANCE HOLDINGS 2.529411 Property 5157750
OLH OLDFIELDS HOLDINGS 2.333333 Paint maker 8217620
EGL ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP/THE 2.034483 Water treatment 19001990
POZ POZ MINERALS 1.8 Diamonds 9389427
HEG HILL END GOLD 7 High Purity Alumina 24178186
KFE KOGI IRON 3.368421 Iron Ore 49148836
EPM ECLIPSE METALS 2.2 Manganese 18298786
IMA IMAGE RESOURCES NL 1.659575 Mineral sands 71411248
TGN TUNGSTEN MINING NL 2.42857 Tungsten 52966704
PEX PEEL MINING 2.529412 Zinc 110301584
AKG ACADEMIES AUSTRALASIA GROUP 2.181818 Training / education 62743268
ARV ARTEMIS RESOURCES 6.249999 Gold (Pilbara) 166339184
DEG DE GREY MINING 3.594595 Gold (Pilbara) 53974228
SPX SPECTRUM RARE EARTHS 2.333333 Gold (Pilbara) 5965155
TAR TARUGA GOLD 2.233334 Gold (Pilbara) 10079972
RTR RUMBLE RESOURCES 2.157895 Gold (Pilbara) 21130894
DGO DGO GOLD 2.039473 Gold (Pilbara) 11036635
TTT TITOMIC 3.15 Tech - 3D printer 90638576
IXU IXUP 1.6 Tech - Data collaboration 90334312
KNM KNEOMEDIA 6.499999 Tech - Educational games 71727784
EGN ENGENCO 1.866667 Tech - Engineering 134753808
JCS JCURVE SOLUTIONS 1.642857 Tech - Enterprise software 12204705
FZO FAMILY ZONE CYBER SAFETY 2.351351 Tech - Internet 70080912
LVH LIVEHIRE 2.323529 Tech - Recruitment 273285056
SHO SPORTSHERO 2 Tech - Sports fantasy 14630122
ELS ELSIGHT 6.55 Tech - Video networking 105060552
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