Author: Phil Oakley

Stock Watch: Morrisons – Is a bad business turning itself into a reasonable one?

Ten years ago, Morrisons was doing reasonably well. Under the leadership of Dutchman Marc Bolland it was wooing customers with a very simple and powerful strategy – offering good food at low prices. When he left to run Marks & Spencer, the supermarket industry was beginning to change and the company lost its way. It […]

Avoiding bad shares is just as important as picking good ones

If you’ve been investing in individual shares for a while then you’ve probably gone through the experience of losing some money on one or more of them. It’s a horrible feeling that happens to the best investors. You’d rather it hadn’t happened but the lessons you can learn from it can be invaluable in making […]

Stock Watch: Hill & Smith Holdings

Shares in Hill & Smith Holdings (LSE:HILS) have been a very solid investment in recent years. The company’s strategy of focusing on niche infrastructure markets with significant regulation and health and safety characteristics has seen its businesses grow and become increasingly profitable. Total returns to shareholders have increased by 258% over the last five years. […]

Stock Watch: Superdry

Superdry wants to create a global lifestyle brand by selling premium, high quality and affordable clothing to people. Its brand may not be as recognisable as leading sportswear brands such as Nike or outdoor brands such as North Face but its distinctive logos with Americana and Japanese graphics are not an uncommon sight. Superdry is […]

Should investors avoid low margin companies?

Highly profitable companies can make outstanding long-term investments. Arguably, the best way to measure a company’s profitability is to compare its profits with the amount of money invested to make them. This is known as the return on investment or return on capital employed (ROCE). One person’s definition of a highly profitable business will differ […]

A smarter way to use analysts’ EPS forecasts

Should investors pay much attention to analysts’ profit forecasts? There is a school of thought that suggests that they should not. Detractors say that forecasts are nothing more than educated guesswork and that analysts are very bad at predicting changes such as profit warnings or recessions. In many cases, forecasts are merely the extrapolation of […]

Searching for companies paying out more of their profits

One of the main considerations for people investing in shares these days is the dividend income they will get from owning them. With a world of low interest rates on savings accounts and bonds and a change in the rules for taking pension income the choice of dividend-paying shares has arguably never been more important. […]

Is the current ratio an outdated measure of company safety?

One of the most commonly cited measures of a company’s financial strength is something known as the current ratio. It is a measure of liquidity and compares a company’s current assets – defined as assets that can be turned into cash within one year – with its current liabilities (those which have to be paid […]

How much is a company worth? A look at different ways to value shares

Two weeks ago I wrote about how to try and value companies that aren’t making a profit. This week I’m going back to basics for more inexperienced investors. Although I’m sure there will be some reminders here for regular readers. For many successful investors, the price they pay for a share of a company is […]

How to value loss-making companies One of the questions I am frequently asked is: “How do I value loss-making companies?”. The short answer is that it can be really quite difficult. It is so much easier to try and value profitable businesses with an established financial history. However, the value of any business is based […]

Stock Watch: Redrow

The state of the housing market – and the direction of house prices in particular – is a key driver of Britain’s economy. When house prices are going up, people feel wealthier, banks are happy to lend money against property and economic activity tends to increase. More houses are built, more people move home, more […]

Stock Watch: Ashtead Group

Ashtead makes its money by renting out equipment to construction and industrial companies – things like aerial platforms, forklift trucks, tools, diggers, cranes, power generators and pumps. It makes most of its profits in America and its shares have been a terrific investment. They have been a proverbial ten bagger over the last decade. After […]

Stock Watch: Castings

Castings plc is a foundry business. Foundries are factories which produce metal castings. Castings has two in the UK – in the West Midlands and South Yorkshire – which take scrap steel and alloys and turn them into castings up to 40kg in weight. It also has a machining business which allows it to turn […]

Stock Watch: RPC

RPC (rigid plastic containers) designs and manufacturers plastic products for packaging markets. The company makes thousands of different products such as plastic bottles, food containers, plastic tubes, paint containers, wheelie bins and bin liners. Plastic is everywhere in our lives and there is a good chance that most of us use or come across an […]

Stock Watch: James Halstead

James Halstead has been in business since 1915. It started out dyeing, finishing, waterproofing and rubberising textiles that were used in rainwear and outdoor clothing. Today it has established itself as a leading manufacturer and distributor of high quality flooring for commercial, contract and domestic markets. Its main commercial brand is its Polyflor vinyl flooring […]

Stock Watch: Watkins Jones

Stock Watch: Watkins Jones Watkins Jones is a property developer, best known for building private student accommodation. It floated on AIM in March 2016. The company makes money from three sources at the moment: Building student accommodation units for professional investors Managing student accommodation units for professional investors Building private residential accommodation The bulk of […]

Stock Watch: Smart Metering Systems (AIM:SMS)

I recently wrote about Smart Metering Systems in my exclusive weekly newsletter for SharePad and ShareScope customers. It’s an interesting company so I have decided to dedicate a Stock Watch to it. Smart Metering Systems (SMS) has been in business since 1995. The company’s roots were established following the deregulation of the domestic gas meter […]

Stock Watch: FW Thorpe

FW Thorpe was founded in 1936 and has been listed on the stock exchange since 1965. The company designs and manufactures professional lighting systems for commercial markets. It has been very successful in carving out a profitable niche for itself and its shares have proven to be a very decent long term investment. What makes […]

Stock Watch: FW Thorpe

FW Thorpe was founded in 1936 and has been listed on the stock exchange since 1965. The company designs and manufactures professional lighting systems for commercial markets. It has been very successful in carving out a profitable niche for itself and its shares have proven to be a very decent long term investment. What makes […]

Stock Watch: XP Power

XP Power is based is headquartered in Singapore and has manufacturing sites in Vietnam and China. The company makes power control systems which convert power from an electrical mains supply to a safe level to be used in its customers’ products. It sells its products into the Industrial, Healthcare and Technology sector where they are […]

Does Tesco buying Booker make sense?

Mergers and takeovers are part and parcel of the investing world. However, I think it’s fair to say that last week’s (27th January 2017) announcement that supermarket giant Tesco (LSE:TSCO) was buying cash and carry operator Booker (LSE:BOK) was something of a surprise. Takeovers or acquisitions as they are commonly known are a very grey area for investors. Are […]

Paying up for quality shares – how much is too much?

“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” – Warren Buffett “The desirability of a business with outstanding economic characteristics can be ruined by the price you pay for it. The opposite is not true.” – Charlie Munger The quote from Warren Buffett above is often cited […]

What is investing?

Why do people invest their money rather than just save? It’s not just about growing your savings so that you will have more money in the future. It’s about growing the buying power of your money. You want the £1 that you are investing today to buy more things in the future than it does […]