Forget Nvidia, Apple and Tesla – this household name UK stock is up 559%

Expert Victoria Scholar on difference between saving and investing

So far in 2023, the big investment buzz has been generated by the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. Stocks such as US chipmaker Nvidia have soared as investors race to pick winners before AI transforms the world and tech profits surge even higher.

Nvidia isn’t the only US stock that has been flying this year. Performance has been dominated by the so-called “Magnificent Seven” mega-cap tech stocks, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google-owner Alphabet, Nvidia, Facebook-owner Meta and Elon Musk’s Tesla.

Of these, Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and now Nvidia belong to the trillion-dollar club, with a market capitalisation of more than $1trillion each. Apple is worth almost $3trillion.

Nvidia’s shares have grown a staggering 205 percent over the last 12 months, as its chips are vital to the growth of AI.

The US stock market has overshadowed the UK but we do have one blue-chip success story of our own.

FTSE 100 engineering group Rolls-Royce is finally living up to its premium name after years when its profits and shares flew into a sharp reverse.

Its shares are up 190 percent over the past year alone and there could be more to come as its new chief executive targets a huge upturn in profits.

Rolls-Royce shares lost three quarters of their value over the last decade after being hit with a triple blow.

First, it issued a string of profit warnings. Then it got swept up in a £617million bribery scandal over new contract wins in Indonesia, Thailand, Russia, China, Nigeria, India and Malaysia. 

Finally, profits collapsed when international air travel was grounded during the pandemic.

When most Brits hear the name Rolls-Royce, they picture a sleek luxury motor. However, Rolls-Royce cars have been made by German car maker BMW for more than two decades.

These days, Rolls-Royce primarily makes jet engines, although it also manufacturers marine propulsion and power generation systems.

Most of its revenues come from the long-term servicing and maintenance contracts sold alongside the engines.

Payments are based on miles flown, and when airlines stopped flying during Covid lockdowns, those revenues were effectively grounded, too.

Former chief executive Warren East battled on as profits plunged and the stock crashed to a low of 38.98p in October 2020.

When new boss Tufan Erginbilgic took over in January he tore into the company calling it a “burning platform” adding: “Every investment we make, we destroy value.”

Erginbilgic said Rolls-Royce had “not been performing for a long, long time” and vowed to turn it round by slashing 2,500 jobs and making savings of £500million a year.

Investors liked what they heard and the stock took off. It now trades at 257p, up a scarcely believable 559 percent in total from its October 2020 low.

The stock jumped another seven percent this morning after Erginbilgic vowed to quadruple profits in the next four years to at least £2.5billion.

He is also plotting to sell off £1.5billion of its businesses, possibly including its electric plane and flying taxi divisions.

Rolls-Royce will also resume making for engines for smaller narrow-body passenger jets, such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, which it stopped making in 2011.

Investors love it. So far this year the FTSE 100 has fallen 1.60 percent in yet another disappointing year for UK shares.

Yet the Rolls-Royce share price is up 160 percent over the same period. Or to put it another away, it’s risen at 100 times as fast as the main London index. Like a jet engine, in fact.

It’s a brilliant recovery with the prospect of more to come but new investors should tread carefully. After rising so rapidly, the stock may slow from here. It could even fall. Capital is at risk.

While the longer term outlook is promising, buying individual shares is always risky. Especially ones like Rolls-Royce that have just been on a tear.

It’s a brilliant recovery. Now let’s see if it can continue. The UK desperately needs engineering companies like Rolls-Royce to succeed.

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