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Housebuilder Glenveagh tipped as best-performing stock of 2020 - but analysts remain divided on global economy

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2019 was a good year for Gene Murtagh’s Kingspan

2019 was a good year for Gene Murtagh’s Kingspan

2019 was a good year for Gene Murtagh’s Kingspan

With property once again a national obsession, it is no surprise a property company - Glenveagh - was voted likely to be the best-performing Irish stock in 2020, according to the annual Sunday Independent analyst survey.

Whether this honour is more to do with the potential €700m it may return to shareholders than the 11,000 homes it plans to build is not clear. UDG Healthcare is also predicted to be a strong performer, and Ryanair too.

There is less consensus from analysts as to the likely worst performer, but Mincon, Aryzta, Greencore, Origin Enterprises and Kerry, fresh from its DuPont deal failure, get mentions.

No such equivocation by analysts on their worst-performing Irish chief executive of 2019, with former Datalex boss Aidan Brogan the clear, ahem, winner.

Building materials are hot, with Gene Murtagh of Kingspan just a nose in front of Albert Manifold of CRH as the best performer, according to the anonymous survey.

Analysts like what they see with regard to Ireland's economic prospects in 2020, with one giving a simple response: "Very positive." Those surveyed tended to predict GDP growth of at least 4pc, while two optimistic sorts plumped for 5pc. Others were more cautious but still not gloomy: "Business investment could see a bounce-back, with Brexit uncertainty easing somewhat. Growth of 3.5pc expected, which would compare well with the rest of Europe."

There was less certainty regarding prospects for the global economy in 2020. One analyst predicted global GDP growth of 2pc, while another said prospects were "positive as global trade wars abate and the Brexit story moves on". But caution was definitely the watch word when it came to the global economy.

"Below potential but probably settling at 3pc after significant trade-related weakness in 2019," said one response.

"Low growth to persist", said another, while one analyst said prospects were "OK" but this was "dependent on US noise pre-election".

With volatility the only certainty, it is perhaps not surprising that there was no consensus among analysts when asked to comment on potential mergers or takeovers.

Troubled Tullow Oil was seen by one as a potential takeover target, while Grafton was also viewed as ripe for the picking.

With Brexit seemingly about to 'get done', no survey would be complete without a question regarding its impact on Ireland this year.

One analyst responded that 2020 was an unpredictable year, "given the negotiating stance of the UK government".

One said there would be no impact. Another said the impact would be positive, and another that although Boris Johnson would get a trade deal from the US and only a "minimal" trade deal from the EU, the separation would be "less disruptive than thought".

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Another analyst believes that "we are likely to see a re-emergence of uncertainty surrounding Brexit as the likelihood of not agreeing an extension to the transition period beyond the end of 2020 grows". He added: "However, we expect that Boris Johnson will request that extension, meaning the status quo will remain for another two years."

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