Bushfires, COVID-19 and a global recession have certainly dominated news headlines this year, but the events of 2020 created new opportunities for a large percentage of Sydney's leading listed companies.
Whether it be AI and machine learning company Appen or fintech Zip Co, new entrants in this year's Sydney Top Companies list represent a changing market landscape that rewards bold and forward-thinking business leaders.
By looking at the top five on this list it would be easy to conclude the status quo remains the same, but top players Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have lost considerable value.
Both banks have been beset by scandals, however they have also stepped up to provide relief to customers in very difficult circumstances, playing an instrumental role financially to support the country's economic recovery.
Other top five players like logistics property-focused Goodman Group and retailer Woolworths have grown much stronger over the past 18 months as their business models have catered to e-commerce trends and capacity building.
Last year's number six - Westfield shopping centre owner-operator Scentre Group - has understandably fallen from the top 10 following the heavy blow of social distancing and shutdowns due to COVID-19. Scentre was replaced by pokie manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure, which despite losing out from closed gaming floors has benefited from a pivot to online gambling.
Insurer IAG also fell out of the top 10 as well, while another insurer NIB fell off the list altogether, along with Whitehaven Coal, Link Administration, Platinum Asset Management and Pendal Group.
Metcash joined the ranks thanks to growing sales at IGA supermarkets, home cooking and coffee-making trends helped Breville percolate up into the list, while insurance broker Steadfast delivered on its name.
Two companies here have also changed their names - Caltex to Ampol, and WorleyParsons to just Worley, seemingly taking a page out of BHP's branding playbook.
Despite international travel grinding to a halt, Sydney Airport somehow managed to hold its position at number 10 and national airline Qantas fell by just three spots to 25.
It was arguably two major US acquisitions as well as broader macro-trends that sent Appen and Zip Co not just into this list but into 40th and 43rd place respectively. But the most significant rise was undoubtedly telco TPG, hitting 12th spot following its tumultuous merger saga with Vodafone Hutchison Australia that eventually got the nod from the courts, regulators and shareholders.
With such a major skew towards the finance and property sectors that have both been under immense pressure this year, the combined $670.5 billion market capitalisation of Sydney's Top Companies has fallen by a faster rate than the All Ordinaries since the last instalment, but only slightly at 3.6 per cent versus 3.3 per cent.
For the most part the giants that dominate this list have held firm and stayed resilient throughout the pandemic, but in the words of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce: "Recovery will take time and it will be choppy".
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