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The 5 Best Stocks of 2014

This will not be a year to remember for Canadian investors.

While international stock markets are posting double-digit gains, equity prices in the Great White North are barely treading water. For 2014, the S&P/TSX Composite Index is on track to finish up only a meager 2%.

Yet in spite of the dull performance, some companies have still managed to post eye-popping returns. Let’s review some of the good stories over the past year. Here are Canada’s best performing stocks of 2014.

1. Amaya Inc, up 341%

Amaya Inc. (TSX: AYA) looked like a solid bet when the company went public in 2010. Now it looks as if the firm has hit the jackpot. In June, the company acquired North America’s two largest and most valuable online poker sites: Full Tilt and PokerStars.

This could be just the beginning for Amaya. Last quarter, management announced that it will begin to offer other casino games next year, including slots, roulette, blackjack, and sports betting. Investors clearly like Amaya’s odds.

2. Detour Gold Corporation, up 128%

Are you looking for a leveraged bet on gold prices? How about Detour Gold Corporation (TSX: DGC)? This firm has so many ups and downs, it makes other mining companies look as safe as bonds.

Detour is betting everything on a new mine near Detour Lake in Northern Ontario. Last December, the stock traded as low as $2.88 per share upon the surprise departure of its chief executive officer. However, with more certainty within its management ranks, the stock has rallied this year.

3. Canadian Tire Corporation Limited , up  103%

Canadian Tire Corporation Limited (TSX: CTC.A) shares have been a winner, up more than 25% year-to-date. However, an even better investment has been the company’s voting stock. These thinly traded securities have more than doubled in 2014.

Many companies have both voting and non-voting shares trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Typically, voting shares trade for a small premium, usually around 1% or 2% over the price of non-voting stock. Today, however, the premium for voting shares in Canadian Tire is hovering around 100%. Why? Analysts aren’t really sure.

4. Sierra Wireless, Inc., up 80 %

Every day we’re seeing more examples of machines talking to machines and Sierra Wireless, Inc. (TSX: SW)(NASDAQ: SWIR) is at the center of those digital conversations. The company makes the modules that allow devices to communicate to one another. And business is booming now that everything from cars to refrigerators are being connected to the Internet.

However, Sierra might just be getting started. Today, there are about 10.7 billion Internet connections worldwide. However, according to Cisco Systems Inc, that figure could rise to 50 billion by the end of the decade. Almost all of that will be the result of more machine-to-machine communication.

5. DHX Media Ltd, up 73%

Try asking a class of kindergarten children for their favourite TV shows. You will get a long list that may include: Caillou, Madeline, Teletubbies, and Inspector Gadget. DHX Media Ltd (TSX: DHX) owns the rights to all of these children classics.

For years, few investors appreciated the company’s recurring and growing revenue stream. They do now. DHX’s library of programs has become serious business, especially now that it is easily accessible through computers, tablets and mobile phones. Since 2012, the stock has rallied over 1,000%.

Our No. 1 stock pick

All of these names are great investment ideas, but this firm might be the best of all. Our top analyst has done his homework. Now he's recommending one Canadian stock that should be the foundation of every portfolio.

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Fool contributor Robert Baillieul has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Sierra Wireless. The Motley Fool owns shares of Sierra Wireless.

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