Author: Richard Beddard

JDG V SDI: The Battle of Buy and Build

Shortly after Judges Scientific makes its biggest-ever acquisition, Richard sets out to discover whether the pasture is greener over at SDI, a smaller listed business that does much the same thing: buys and builds companies that make scientific instruments. If I were to use one measure to compare highly acquisitive businesses it would be Return […]

Portmeirion Group PLC: Portmeirion goes back to the future (LSE:PMP)

Richard re-examines one of his worst trades and considers whether changes at Portmeirion, the manufacturer of tableware and other home accessories, are enough to make him reconsider. Half a failed trade Portmeirion is one of the more severe of many blots on my trading history. I added Portmeirion to the model portfolio I run for […]

Morgan Advanced Materials | Follow the fd (LSE : MGAM)

Prompted by the notion that executives sometimes vote with their feet, Richard takes a first look at Morgan Advanced Materials. It recently poached Victrex’s chief financial officer. A by-product of attending the Victrex Annual General Meeting earlier this year was the opportunity to ask its chief financial officer why he was leaving for the arguably […]

Luceco PLC| Climbing the wall of worry (LSE : LUCE)

Richard finds answers to his questions about Luceco, a manufacturer of electrical products that power our homes. Knowledge, he finds, can be as powerful as electricity… This time last year one of my screens picked up Luceco, a company that makes electrical products like sockets. I wrote down my hopes and fears in SharePad and […]

Oxford Metrics | Profiting from the augmented age (LSE:OMG)

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Oxford Metrics has an illustrious past, and judging by management’s targets it expects to augment it in future. Richard investigates the past, and ponders the future… I discovered Oxford Metrics while paging through SharePad’s list of the whole market (LSE shares, excluding Investment Trusts) skimming the summary pages of companies that had recently published annual […]

Rediscovering the father of value investing | Benjamin Graham

Reading by the fire

Richard warms the cockles of his heart in front of a digital fire, while reading his favourite investment book… Christmas is approaching, and I must confess to a new and slightly eccentric guilty pleasure. In addition to mince pies and Irish Coffee, I have taken to working (from home of course) in front of an […]

Bytes: Which is the best IT reseller?

Recent flotation Bytes Technology has joined bigger rivals Softcat and Computacenter on the stock market. Richard wants to know what it does differently. In my last article I introduced Marks Electrical, a company that had recently floated that might be an exception that proves the rule that Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) make terrible investments. The […]

Marks Electrical plc | I liked the service so much, I nearly bought the company

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Richard was so impressed by his first look at newly listed Marks Electrical, he was tempted to buy something from the online retailer of cookers and other domestic appliances. As for the investment, he was tempted too… I do not know whether it is a glitch or a feature, but a quirk of SharePad has […]

DFS plc | Will the investment last as long as the sofa?

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Richard likes a business that is in control of its own destiny. He takes a look at DFS plc, the sofa seller that unexpectedly featured in his list of vertically integrated businesses. Of all the names that came up in my trawl for vertically integrated businesses, sofa seller DFS was perhaps the most surprising. To […]

Winners in an uncertain world | Vertical integration

In the chaotic business conditions we are experiencing, self-reliance has been a source of competitive advantage. Since we do not ever know what the future will hold, Richard goes in search of companies that have an element of vertical integration. I hope it is not smugness, but I have felt a sense of satisfaction when […]

Four live pivots: Next, Goodwin, Bloomsbury Publishing and Victrex

Richard goes hunting in his own portfolio for companies incubating better businesses. They may be undervalued as a result. As promised, this week I am following up my last article on past pivots that worked with an article about live pivots that look like they are working. I used the word pivot to describe a […]

Betting on change

In the first of two articles, Richard celebrates perhaps the sweetest investment of them all: The humdrum business that incubates a better one. Though my stock-in-trade is businesses reliably executing established and successful strategies, my biggest winners have often been businesses that pivoted. They incubated better businesses from within the business they already operated. In […]

History of Games Workshop shares | When turnarounds become transformations

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Inspired by Maynard’s article on Hornby’s turnaround, Richard examines the history of Games Workshop to imagine what challenges lie ahead if Hornby is to emulate the success of this outwardly similar hobby business. The idea for this article came from Maynard’s article about Hornby. To my mind he convincingly described a turnaround that is already […]

3 questions about Oxford Instruments plc | Deep dive into financials

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Richard goes deep into Oxford Instruments’ annual reports and SharePad for answers to three questions to establish whether it is a good “pick and shovel play”. In my last article I explained how I used custom tables to find Oxford Instruments, a highly profitable business that seemed to have lost its way and then found […]

Financials, filters and FOMO | Using SharePad to find opportunities

Filters are one of the most powerful tools in SharePad, but Richard has been experimenting with another way to discover investment ideas and increase his “market intimacy”. Traders, of course, have price charts to guide them. Many investors focus on financials, and use filters to find new shares with attractive financial characteristics. Being a buy-and-hold […]

Investing in Team17 shares: A team worth joining?

Richard is thinking about joining computer games developer and publisher Team17 as a shareholder. It would be a bold decision, but he would rather invest in Team17 shares than the closest alternative, Frontier Developments. The first thing that attracted me to Team17 was the financials. The second thing was the chief executive. That is because […]

Roll up! Get yer easy returns here…

Bunzl, a company I investigated last year, is a classic roll up A distributor of everyday items consumed by businesses and organisations, it routinely acquires much smaller distributors, improves their efficiency and creates economies of scale. This reduces customer’s procurement costs, and improves the profitability of the mothership. To grow, the company has repeated this […]

Nichols: More than Vimto

Having prospected for investments in the soft drinks industry, I think Nichols is perhaps the most intriguing of quite an interesting group. It has been enormously profitable and a steady grower, unlike the other candidate, Fever-Tree, which has experienced both extraordinary profit and extraordinary growth. Fever-Tree makes me nervous. Explosive growers rarely keep growing rapidly […]

Floored

James Halstead makes vinyl flooring, the kind we see in hospital corridors, GP surgeries, clinics, schools, offices, laboratories, prisons, factories, shops, trains and boats around the world. James Halstead’s biggest brand is Polyflor. The company’s social media accounts are a good way to get a feel for the product and you can take the Commercial […]

What does not kill a business can make it stronger

This article was not supposed to be about paper maker James Cropper. I set out to write about Animalcare, a veterinary pharmaceutical company, but I quickly became disillusioned, wretched even. You probably will hear about Animalcare one day, because it is an interesting business, but it is also complicated and its complicatedness was epitomised by […]

This time is different for Design Group

If you watch Design Group’s annual results presentation, you may detect a bashful smile on chief executive Paul Fineman’s face. Paul Fineman, chief executive of Design Group. Source: Design Group Full Year Results 2020 (video). Despite unexpected tariffs on products imported into the USA from China and the onset of the pandemic, Design Group was […]

A safety first stock

I found James Latham a couple of months ago when I was trawling for cheap shares with strong balance sheets. The shares are still cheap, James Latham’s Price Earnings (PE) ratio is 13, and the balance sheet should remain strong… Centuries trading timber James Latham has a long and storied history. It manufactured plywood for […]

Preparing for the worst, capitalising on the best

Listening to Porvair’s long-standing chief executive Ben Stocks talk about the challenges ahead, it is clear the company is bracing itself. Phrases like “preparing for the worst, hoping for the best”, and “the overall balance is negative”, come readily to him. This is a company I have long admired, but I have never had the […]

Making a new discoverIE

I discovered discoverIE using a simple and fruitful method of finding new investment ideas: a list of shares sorted in SharePad by previous annual report date. Having squinted for a few minutes at financial charts showing profitability, cashflow and debt (more on that later), I thought the company looked promising: Sorting a list in SharePad […]

A cheap profitable share with a strong balance sheet

Today I have added two more criteria to turn the list of cheap shares with strong balance sheets I made in my last article into a list of cheap profitable shares with strong balance sheets! The profitability criteria are free cash conversion and return on capital employed. This table shows the individual and aggregated rankings […]

Putting safety first

Funny thing (peculiar, not ha! ha!). Search SharePad news for the phrase “strong balance sheet” and there are dozens of companies every day confirming their finances are strong as they reflect on the prospect of reduced, or in some cases, no revenue for a while. Search SharePad news for the phrase “weak balance sheet” though […]

Going for repeat business

Fundsmith Equity probably needs no introduction. Since its launch in November 2010 the fund has racked up class-leading annualised returns of more than 18%, compared to less than 12% for an index of global equities, by investing in high quality businesses at attractive valuations. You can, of course, make further comparisons, and explore the makeup […]

Taking back control

Richard investigates Dialight, a supplier of industrial LED lighting that flared up ten years ago briefly setting the stock market alight, and subsequently dimmed alarmingly. What are its prospects now it is taking back control of manufacturing? Ten years ago Dialight was a feted, fast growing business in a booming industry, LED lighting, but it […]

Death in paradise

The demise of Thomas Cook impacted the whole package tour industry including London listed Online Travel Agent, On The Beach. Whether you trust the accounting regulations or On The Beach’s adjustments makes a big difference to the company’s profitability in 2019. Richard unravels the exceptional items. It’s January, The BBC is screening Death in Paradise, […]

The ultimate competitive advantage

Business schools identify the sources of competitive advantage that tie customers to companies and what they produce. Fundamentally though, there is only one true competitive advantage: people. If I could recommend one book for long-term investors, it would be “Intelligent Fanatics Project” by Sean Iddings and Ian Cassell, which is subtitled “How great leaders build […]

Skin in the game: Two for the watchlist

Richard uses his “Skin in the game” table to find companies whose directors are major shareholders. The experiment starts off badly with Asset Co., but gets better. Frontier Development and Focusrite could be great owner-managed businesses. To recap: We can use SharePad to find companies that are run by managers who are themselves significant shareholders. […]

Investing alongside managers with skin in the game

Richard uses SharePad to find companies whose managers are also significant shareholders. They are likely to be building businesses for the long-term, he says. The reasons for investors to look kindly on owner-managers, executives that have large shareholdings in the firms they run, are ably described in this article by Harry Fraser, manager of the […]

Burberry joins “Future of Fashion” portfolio

In his quest for companies that control their own destinies, Richard discovers luxury fashion brand Burberry, a company whose products he is in no danger of buying. Last time, I promised to investigate one of the shares I found while filtering for vertically integrated companies, companies that control their own destinies because they control many […]

The art of the sale

In response to a reader’s request for a sell filter, Richard goes looking for trouble in his portfolio by setting some “curiosity triggers”…. One of the better bits of advice passed between investors is to sell shares when the reasons you bought them no longer hold true. Most of us will have all sorts of […]

How to work out whether a firm is good acquirer

Richard uses a trick from Judges Scientific’s playbook to assess local hero Scientific Digital Imaging. Both companies acquire scientific instrument manufacturers using a “buy and build strategy”. Last month we worked out how to populate Google Maps with SharePad data to find local companies to invest in. Today, we will take the process a stage […]

RM: Will profit endure?

Richard considers whether the supplier of educational resources and software services can sustain profitability and reignite growth. There’s a good chance, he thinks, which makes RM an intriguing proposition at its current valuation. In my last article, we took a tour through SharePad and RM’s annual report to check its profit was real. RM is […]

RM: Is profit real?

Richard investigates RM, one of the stock market’s great survivors, starting with just one question. It takes him on a twisty trail… Before we get into the numbers, some reasons why RM, a supplier of 50,000 educational products and IT to schools and nurseries and on-screen marking services to exam boards, is worthy of investigation: […]

Fishing like Fundsmith

Richard builds a Fundsmith filter, taking it from concept to conclusion. The aim: To reduce the “junk” in our watchlists so we are fishing in a better-stocked pool of shares. My editor wonders whether my obsession with Fundsmith Equity Fund is a ‘fatal attraction’ but he has permitted one more article. It would be remiss […]

Putting performance into perspective

Richard reads Fundsmith Equity Fund’s annual letter to fundholders and suggests a modest improvement that could change your perception of financial history. He also responds to reader’s queries about On The Beach, the company he profiled two weeks ago. If you are a fundholder in Fundsmith Equity Fund, then congratulations. You’ve just received fund manager […]

Evaluating a hot tip

Psst, company XYZ is going great guns, it’s shooting for the moon, get in before it is too late!!! In today’s article, Richard uses SharePad to evaluate Clipper Logistics, a tip he received anonymously on the Internet. Tips passed online are sometimes little more than ramps, invitations to boost the tipster’s wealth by buying shares […]

Filtering new issues

New issues have a reputation for delivering poor investment returns. In this article we filter SharePad for companies that may be more seasoned than they look. In my last article, I filtered SharePad for the firms that had been listed longest on the London Stock Exchange. Statistically speaking, the longer an investment has been listed […]

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