Category: Company analysis

Weekly Commentary: 09/11/20 – Study silence to learn the music

The US Presidential election turned out to be closer than most people expected. Nasdaq up almost +10% over the week to 12078. Tech stocks reacted well to the uncertainty, but so did 10 year US Bond yields, which initially jumped to 0.9% before falling back to 0.78%. I’m not sure if you’d predicted the result, […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Jarvis Securities

Today I have returned to one of my favourite SharePad screens. This screen applies two ratios favoured by ‘quality’ investors — operating margin and return on equity (ROE). The main filter criteria are: 1) An operating margin (latest and 10-year average) of 20% or more, and; 2) An ROE (latest and 10-year average) of 20% […]

Weekly Commentary: 02/11/20 – Insiders selling at the top?

Last week markets sold off into the rising cases of Covid. The FTSE 100 fell 5% last week to 5561. Large UK banks HSBC and NatWest reported encouraging results, although the sector remained unloved. Directors selling Given the strength of the market’s rally over the last 6 months, and then last week’s sell off, I […]

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 […]

Weekly Commentary: 19/10/20 – On network effects and fads

“Fad companies are companies with good business models or good products. So, why would we be interested in shorting a company that has a good product? Because of the threat it presents to others and their likely response to that threat. For example, Netflix had a terrific idea of renting DVDs through the mail, which […]

Weekly Commentary: 12/10/20 – On content, distribution and kurtosis

Last week the FTSE recovered to just over 6000. The (perhaps inappropriately named) Bond film No Time to Die, was postponed until next year by its Hollywood studio, MGM, which has left cinemas in trouble. Cineworld is on the brink, a victim of an overly leveraged balance sheet but no product to distribute. Up until […]

Weekly Commentary: 05/10/20 – On uncertainty and confidence

Last week Andy Haldane at the Bank of England gave an interesting speech on “Economic Anxiety” noting that pessimism can be as contagious as the disease. Haldane is most famous for his “Dog and the Frisbee” speech, which he co-wrote with the famous psychologist Gerd Gigarenzer in 2012. Catching a frisbee is difficult; theoretically it […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Polar Capital

I am not a great fan of the fund-management industry. I cannot think of another sector where the employees collect enormous salaries while the customers pay hefty fees and sometimes get nothing in return. Quite often us amateur investors are better off with simple index trackers rather than falling for the industry’s persuasive advisers and […]

Weekly Commentary: 28/09/20 – Beginner’s mind and Buy and Build

Markets sold off last week as virus case rises rose (FTSE 100 fell to below 5800 before recovering slightly later in the week, Nasdaq down 4% to 10,800). The virus itself seems reasonably predictable, everyone has been expecting cases to rise as summer turns to autumn. What hasn’t been predictable is Government responses around the […]

Weekly Commentary: 21/09/20 – The long journey to exoneration

The FTSE 100 just about held its level above 6000 last week. Last week was Chilean Independence Day. It is a little known footnote in history that Lord Cochrane, who was involved in the great Stock Exchange scam of 1814 (accused of starting rumours of Napoleon’s death via the Admiralty’s semaphore telegraph) helped not one, […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Fuller, Smith & Turner

First, a wealth warning. The last price-to-book ‘bargain’ I looked at for SharePad was Hammerson. Back then the property group’s £5 billion asset base could be acquired for a £1.6 billion market cap. Investors were in theory able to purchase £1 of assets for just 30p. Twelve months on, and the share price below tells […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Fever-Tree Drinks

They say mums always know best. Mine has bought Fever-Tree tonic waters for some years now and I recently asked whether she remained a customer. This was her response. “While we don’t buy many commercial drinks for home consumption these days I would still definitely buy Fever-Tree, generally the original tonic water. I went into […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Hikma Pharmaceuticals

One way to invest during the pandemic is to consider shares that have climbed higher as the market has dropped. Such companies may well be ‘safe havens’ — businesses that are coping well with the lockdown, or perhaps even benefitting from the crisis. I applied the following simple criteria within SharePad to identify potential ‘pandemic-proof’ […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: AB Dynamics

Recent market ructions have sent many shares tumbling — and perhaps created some buying opportunities. Amid the mayhem, I devised a straightforward screen. I simply looked for decent-sized businesses that were still expected to grow, paid a dividend and were conservatively financed, too I applied the following criteria within SharePad to identify some respectable candidates: […]

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 […]

XP POWER

Older readers may recall a distant era when electrical devices used to plug straight into the wall. Nowadays, everything electrical seems to need an annoying little box between it and the wall. That box is called a power supply and these are the business of XP Power. But not the annoying ones. XP doesn’t do […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Boohoo

Cash flow movements can often indicate whether or not a business enjoys a powerful operational advantage. A strong business might: Receive customer payments upfront for goods/services it has yet to deliver, and/or; Pay suppliers months after goods/services have been received. However, a weak business might: Receive customer payments months after its goods/services have been delivered, […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Greggs

‘Run your winners’ is popular stock-market advice. Great companies often remain great investments for a lot longer than most people expect… … and can deliver life-changing rewards to anyone who refrains from selling out too soon. Where can we find potential winners to run? I thought the best performing shares of 2019 would provide a […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Dotdigital

Today I have returned to the share screen I employed to pinpoint Victrex earlier this year. To quickly recap, this screen applies two ratios favoured by ‘quality’ investors — operating margin and return on equity (ROE). The exact criteria I re-used were: 1) An operating margin (latest and 10-year average) of 20% or more, and; […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Rightmove

Studying free cash conversion is vital when evaluating a set of accounts. The measure compares free cash flow to reported earnings, and can indicate whether a business is a ‘cash fountain’ or a ‘cash guzzler’. Ideally we want to own companies that generate plenty of spare cash, because such cash can: * Underpin accounting profits; […]

KAINOS

THE SETTING Kainos (Greek for fresh, innovative) was launched in 1986 when the old British IT champion ICL recognised the quality of computer science graduates from Queen’s University Belfast. ICL had a new project involving electricity network analysis and Queen’s had just set up one of the first university incubator companies, Qubis, which was keen […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: AG Barr

Quality companies undergoing temporary problems can often become attractive investment opportunities. On that basis, perhaps AG Barr is worth closer inspection. The soft-drinks manufacturer famous for Irn-Bru recently warned that profits would be lower than expected… and the share price plunged accordingly: However, AG Barr does boast a quality track record. During the last 40 […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: JD Sports Fashion

Today I am revisiting the share screen that pinpointed Games Workshop back in January. The shares of the quirky wargaming retailer have soared more than 60% since that review… …and I wonder whether the same screen can unearth another promising opportunity. To recap, the exact criteria I am re-using are: 1) Annualised earnings per share […]

Scapa has had a rocky three weeks. Its market capitalisation is down by 50%. Is it a buy?

THE SETTING After nine years of impressive revivification under CEO Heejae Chae, the specialist tapes maker Scapa has just delivered three tingling episodes in three weeks. It could have stabilised now but it’s worth well under half its starting price. Knock one came on the day of its annual results, 21 May. The results were […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Jupiter Fund Management

Today I have revisited a share screen that applies two ratios favoured by ‘quality’ investors — operating margin and return on equity (ROE). The exact criteria I re-used were: 1) An operating margin (latest and 10-year average) of 20% or more, and; 2) An ROE (latest and 10-year average) of 20% or more. Any business […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Domino’s Pizza

This in-depth article covers one of the most impressive UK growth stocks of the last 20 years — Domino’s Pizza. Domino’s appeared on my radar after I revisited one of my previous SharePad screens. The screen in question searches for companies with dependable dividends and reasonable yields. The exact criteria are: 1) 10 or more […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Victrex

This week I am tracking down a potential long-term winner by employing two ratios favoured by ‘quality’ investors. The first measure is operating margin, which represents the percentage of sales converted into profit. In theory, a company exhibiting a high operating margin may enjoy pricing power over customers — which in turn may indicate a […]

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: […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Craneware

Years ago I read Super Stocks, an investment book that claimed to reveal “powerful new ideas” to uncover “opportunities for spectacular profits”. I sadly can’t recall identifying any “opportunities for spectacular profits”… …but the book’s “powerful new ideas” did make some sense — not least the concept of identifying companies that undertook significant research and […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Accesso Technology

This article has not turned out as I had expected. I was hoping to study a quality growth business that had seen its share price slump to attractive levels… …but instead I have ended up untangling some very awkward accounts and guessing whether management changes are signalling problems ahead. Sit back and brace yourself. The […]

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 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Hargreaves Lansdown

Quality companies often produce exceptional returns for ordinary investors. Just ask Terry Smith or Nick Train. These ace fund managers have delivered wonderful gains by investing in first-class businesses such as Diageo, Reckitt Benckiser and London Stock Exchange. Let’s use SharePad to find a quality company to study for ourselves. Immense figures imply an incredibly […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Games Workshop

Could now be the time to return to dynamic growth shares? Wonder-stocks such as Fever-Tree, Boohoo.com and Keywords Studios are all well below their highs of 2018… …and I wonder whether the widespread selling has created a super-growth bargain somewhere in the market! Let’s employ SharePad to find out. I bought the shares at £8 […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Plus500

Before I start looking at Plus500 (LSE: PLUS), I have some good news…. …you can now employ my SharePad screening criteria with just a few clicks! The process involves SharePad’s amazing Filter library. This facility gives you complete access to numerous pre-defined filters that have been used within various SharePad articles. Just follow these instructions […]

Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Warpaint London

I am always looking for shares that can double, triple, quadruple or more during the years ahead. And one good way of finding such great investments is to study shares that have, well, already doubled, tripled, quadrupled or more. Take Fever-Tree (LSE: FEVR). This tonic-water specialist has rewarded savvy investors handsomely since the firm floated […]

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 […]

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 […]

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