T speaks volumes about the perilous state of the market in 2011 that the best performing stock on the bourse has the equivalent of $2.02 a share in cash and only 58c a share in a tangible investment, its 52 per cent stake in the debt-collector Baycorp.

Oceania Capital, formerly Allco Equity Partners, takes the prize as the best performer in the 476-member All Ordinaries index, soaring 120 per cent thanks to a surprise deal that saw its major investment, iSoft Group, taken out by Computer Science Corp.

That deal alone saw Oceania’s net tangible assets per share vault from 52.3c to $2.68.

Awash with cash, Oceania’s holders have been humming and hawing over competing proposals to either realise the assets and shut the company, or institute a continuation alternative involving a 30c-a-share capital return and a share buyback.

After an interrupted two-day meeting, holders settled on a “revised continuation alternative”, which will see 19.9 per cent holder Hosken Consolidated fund an eventual $10m capital injection and increase its stake to as much as 72 per cent.

In the meantime, other holders can get out via a share buyback at $2.15 with enough funds to satisfy a 90 per cent take-up rate.

The outcome marks a redemption of sorts for the old Peter Yates led AEP, which pre-GFC had its fingers in a number of pies including the ill-fated Qantas buyout proposal.

It highlights the random nature of picking winners these days.

Speaking of which, the second-best performer was drug distribution house Sigma Pharmaceuticals (SIP, 54c), which a year ago was lying doggo after years of folly including the over-the-odds purchase of generic house Arrow Pharmaceuticals in 2005.

Investors who were willing to catch that falling knife are 100 per cent up on their efforts.

Iron-ore hopeful Flinders Mines (FMS, 28.2c), up 90 per cent, had the fortune to hold strategic Pilbara ground, eventually catching the attention of a predator in the form of Russia’s Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works.

Leading the casualty list, Hastie Group (HST, 55.5c) continues to be blighted by restructuring charges despite a major renovation, and investors have done 93 per cent of their dough.

Holders in coal processing play White Energy (WEC, 39c) are not much better off: they’ve been relieved of 88 per cent of their personal wealth after the Indonesians decided White’s coal-drying technology wasn’t the bee’s knees after all.

And, finally, a cheerio to supposedly steel-solid blue-chip BlueScope (BSL, 40.5c) and perennial laggard Gunns (GNS, 12.5c), which reliably razes shareholder value as well as forests.

Source: The Australian – Tim Boreham