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The top 10 Scottish companies of 2012

Royal Bank of Scotland has picked itself up off the floor to join fellow finance groups Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life in providing a vintage Christmas for investors this year.

The trio saw their combined stock-market values surge by a stunning 60% to top the £30 billion mark in 2012 against the rise of less than 6% recorded by the benchmark FTSE 100 shares index.

The RBS performance may come as a surprise to readers fed a regular diet of dire news such as the disastrous performance of the bank's computer technology or its involvement in the Libor rate-fixing scandal.

But optimists say the group has made solid progress under chief executive Stephen Hester and could resume paying dividends in 2014.

Even so, long-term shareholders will not be too excited about last year's recovery. The shares have fallen from the equivalent of £62 to just above 300p currently since 2007.

AAM's rise is less surprising as the group is reaping benefits from previous expansion and it could soften shareholder criticism over the fabulous rewards enjoyed by Martin Gilbert and other executives.

Much past unease has centred around the 2009 incentive scheme which awarded executives 24.4 million shares in three annual instalments and was said to be worth £11.2 million a year at the time.

The share-price rise, though, means this month's payout will be well over double those initial expectations at more than the £28m.

There are solid reasons behind the SL share-price gain. Its profitabilitty has risen sharply and it should be the main beneficiary of Government moves to boost competition with the Retail Distribution Review.

No other companies in Scotland's top 10 came close to keeping pace with the finance giants as stock-market investors again favoured companies which make money rather than things.

Best of the rest was energy supplier SSE which added 20% through investor interest in its high dividend yield while Wood Group and Stagecoach also scored double-digit gains.

One significant Scottish loser was Cairn Energy which saw its valuation slump by nearly 60%, but that was almost entirely due to handing back £2.2bn to shareholders after the sale of the bulk of its Indian operations.

Transport giant FirstGroup has dropped out of the top 10. Its share price tumbled after the West Coast mainline fiasco and it has been replaced by the rival Stagecoach.

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