Our Share Sleuth Richard Beddard sells an old holding and doubles his investment in an existing one.
This month, I stopped sitting on my hands, jolted into action by an email from a reader wondering why, since I had deemed some shares good long-term investments, I had not added them to the Share Sleuth portfolio. He wanted to know whether I believed share prices would fall again – whether I was waiting to pounce on bargains.
Falling prices are an occupational hazard, and if I worried about them I would probably never trade at all. Perhaps the simplest reason for my trading reticence on this occasion is that I am not afraid of rising prices either. Less than 5% of the portfolio was in cash, so, even if the stock market takes off, Share Sleuth will not be harshly penalised by a large cash allocation earning nothing.
When I am investigating a company, I always have in mind the next one or two. Last month, this column finished on a cliff-hanger. Animal feed additive manufacturer Anpario was the pick of the shares available, but Share Sleuth already held a small holding. A larger holding requires more commitment and since 4Imprint and Quartix were coming down the pipe (see Share Watch), I played for time. Other shares, at an earlier stage of research, might tempt me too. Top of the list is D4T4, a company that sells software that captures data about our behaviour as we use websites. When your next trade is likely to be your last one for a while, it is quite precious.
I have also been a reluctant relinquisher of shares, and here Alumasc must hold the record. It was an orphaned holding in Share Sleuth, too small to be significant. The portfolio acquired it over 11 years ago in November 2009 and I never had the confidence to add to it. In last December’s Money Observer, I questioned whether Alumasc would ever turn its high returns on capital into growth, but I have clung on to it regardless, always wanting to give the underdog one more chance, and not wanting to write off the sunk cost of 10 years of research.
On 1 June, I finally ejected all 938 Alumasc shares. The actual price quoted by a broker was just under 77p per share, and after a £10 charge in lieu of broker fees the portfolio gained about £708 in cash. Although Share Sleuth made a loss compared to the purchase cost of nearly £1,000, thanks to dividends the holding made us a profit overall. The annualised total return was just under 3%. When I think of the time wasted analysing Alumasc, and the opportunity cost of better investments foregone, I recognise that it was a failed trade.
Deciding whether to add a share was easy. I went with the Decision Engine, my scoring system. The top three shares are unavailable to Share Sleuth because it already has sizeable holdings in them. But, as we know, the portfolio had a relatively modest 2.5% holding in the fourth, Anpario, which I’ve doubled to 5%, adding 937 Anpario shares at a price of just under 365p. Including a £10 charge in lieu of broker fees, the transaction cost about £3,425.
Share Sleuth has one less member now, with 26 constituents. It also has little more than £2,000 in cash, insufficient for a purchase of meaningful size. Further funds will come slowly from dividends (very slowly in the current climate of cancellations and deferrals) and when I reject or reduce holdings as a consequence of reviewing them annually.
Thanks for the nudge, Fred.
Anpario boosted by Alumasc sale
|Portfolio||Cost (£)||Value (£)||Return (%)|
|Since 9 September 2009||30,000||139,424||365|
|Companies||Shares||Cost (£)||Value (£)||Return (%)|
|TFW||Thorpe (F W)||2,000||2,207||6,740||205|
Notes: Augmented existing holding. Transaction costs include £10 broker fee, and 0.5% stamp duty where appropriate. Cash earns no interest. Dividends and sale proceeds are credited to the cash balance. £30,000 invested on 9 September 2009 would be worth £139,424 today; £30,000 invested in FTSE All-Share index tracker accumulation units would be worth £57,053 today. Objective: To beat the index tracker handsomely over five-year periods. Source: SharePad, 2 June 2020.
Low cash allocation captures upside