...continued strength in the UK housing market as we have had a few announcements today. Two from Inland Homes (INL) and M.J.Gleeson (GLE) relate to development land sales suggesting that there is still good demand for land, especially in the South East. In addition we had strong looking results from Berkeley Group and a further special dividend as expected.
However the experienced Chairman there, Tony Pidgley, was quoted in this article as saying "while the recent general election had brought stability, but warned that upcoming mayoral elections and uncertainty over Britain’s role in the Eurozone could impact business. “Berkeley is a supporter of the UK remaining in Europe as this is the best way for London to remain a world city," said Pidgley. "
Now I guess that makes sense for Berkeley Group given their emphasis on London in particular and I guess the uncertainty or even an unexpected vote to leave could diminish the attractions of the London property market and as has been reported could also cause some large banks like HSBC & JPM may move parts of their operations to Luxembourg as has been rumoured in the event of an out vote.
For the rest of the industry which is probably more nationally based in general this uncertainty should not have too much effect on demand for houses in the short term. However, I guess if there was an out vote and if the government did then eventually get to grips with immigration then that could reduce some of the demand push, but a couple of ifs there so I wouldn't worry about that just yet.
.. and going shopping in the market fallout. In this case I'm suggesting exiting Clarkson (CKN) the shipping broking and services company that I featured in my Christmas Cracker series back in December when it was around 1900p and when I wrote it up back in March this year when it was around 2000p to 2100p. Back then I felt that the gap on the chart at around 2400p could have been a good mid range target, while the higher rating it had traded on in the last year also suggested possible upside as they on boarded their RS Platou acquisition which was the other significant feature at that time.
As you can see from the chart below the shares have done quite well since then, despite the recent falls in the broader market. Consequently they are now getting over bought and extended versus the 200 day moving average and are also approaching their previous highs in both share price and rating terms as they now trade on around 16.2x with a 2.85% yield at 2600p.
So in conclusion, while it is a well managed group and they are still expected to do well operationally this year, much of the good news now seems to be factored into the price, although there could be a little more upside if the rating can reach its previous highs or if it were to re-rate further. However, given the falls in the market recently I preferred to lock in profits up here and go in search of other more attractive buying opportunities which might be washed up by the current volatility in the stock market.
When I left you yesterday at the end of a dull week in the markets I did suggest that that I might try and do a weekend post about things I had seen and heard this week, although be warned most of this is only tangential to markets and investing.
So first up as it is the Weekend here is a sports related video that I watched this week, although some of the suggestions might be applicable to investing and business in general. This was an interview with George Mumford, a psychologist who amongst other things coached Michael Jordan the basketball player. It is based on a book he has written called The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance. It is hosted by an interesting character called Tai Lopez who does video book reviews and comes up with some interesting stuff - see what you think.
I found it interesting that in this he mentioned "being in the moment" and the old hippy phrase "be here now". Talking of old hippies the next thing I listened to was the latest in the occasional broadcasts hosted by Jeremy Vine called Being Human. No I'm not calling Jeremy Vine an old hippy, rather this weeks guest Johnny Walker the 70 year old DJ who fronts one of my favourite radio shows Sounds of the Seventies. Any way he gives quite a nice speech and then an amusing review of his life and how he came to be a DJ and he also talks about soul (human rather than music). He also makes reference to being here now the fact that he is a carer and also a patron of Carers Week, a worthwhile cause which is also on this week in case you missed it.
Meanwhile talking of caring, although I'm not sure about it being a worthwhile cause, I note there was a memorial service for those who lost their lives during the Afghanistan conflict, attended by Prince Harry. Now if like me you have ever wondered what the hell we were doing in Afghanistan in the first place - I also stumbled across on the BBC I-Player while I was bored, an amazing Film by Adam Curtis called Bitter Lake. This looks at the history of the West's involvement in the Middle East since the second world war and I found it quite enlightening albeit it a bit "trippy" and disturbing at times, but it does help to explain why we went into Afghanistan and why it was such a mess - well worth the time if you can spare it in my opinion.
With all this talk of souls, being here now and old hippies, it put me in mind of and set me to listening to the late great George Harrison singing Be Here Now on his album Living in the Material World. In addition his album All Things Must Pass is "generally rated" as his finest work according to an article about it on Wikipedia, what a character he was. Alternatively for younger / millennial readers perhaps I guess you might have thought of Oasis and their album - Be Here Now, who of course were influenced by George and the Beatles or maybe Ray LaMontagne if you prefer your music more laid back.
Finally with all the characters I have mentioned today I'll bring this magical mystery tour down memory lane to a close by bringing it back to investment. I see some other characters are being brought back to the future from the 1970's by the Character Group (CCT) - as I read a report that we are going to see the return of the Clangers - now that is far out, bye for now have a great weekend.
Hi, so here we go again and it is Friday already. Firstly an apology for no posts in the last couple of days. This was due to news flow being particularly dull in my view and I therefore lacked inspiration to write anything worthy of your attention.Today I have something to write about which is perhaps dull and therefore maybe sits well with this weeks news?
I say dull because it is an Investment Trust idea which long term readers will know is a sector I like to use where it can bring access to asset classes or markets which I cannot or do not wish to access directly. I also like their ability to gear, generally low charges and their ability to smooth dividend payments via the use of revenue reserves and more recently from capital.
So the trust I wish to highlight for you today brings a global approach to buying yield stocks for income and growth which is benchmarked against the MSCI World High Dividend Yield index. Having said that though this one does not closet track that index as it is a focussed portfolio of 40 to 50 stocks. The trust is called the Securities Trust of Scotland (STS), which is managed by Martin Currie and their manager Alan Porter, click the name to visit the dedicated site which includes a compelling interview with the manager about his approach plus research reports, facts sheets and the annual report.
In their recent results to March 2015 they increased their 4th quarterly dividend to 1.45p and they have committed to paying this level of dividend for each quarter for their next financial year which will give a total of 5.8p for a yield of 4.3% at the current price of 137.5p. This is supported by revenue reserves of around 40 to 50% of the full year dividend and the ability to pay out of capital. Indeed beyond this year the chairman says:
"The aim is that the annual dividend will be progressive thereafter, in line with the investment objective of delivering
rising income as well as long-term capital growth."
In addition as is often the case with Investment Trusts, but unusual in this sector recently, this one also trades on a discount of around 5% to 6% to its recent Net Asset Value which is around 146p. In common with other investment trusts it has some borrowings which provide gearing of just under 10% currently and has a management charge of 0.6% per annum with ongoing charges of 1% overall. Performance has lagged the benchmark slightly in the last couple of years, but longer term they have done well and beaten it and indeed within the Global Equity income sector it is one of the best performers over five years.
So I like it as a way of getting an actively managed portfolio of international yield stocks at a reasonable cost together with some modest gearing and a decent yield to boot. The recent dull relative performance and maybe investors turning more cautious as equity markets have climbed has perhaps provided an opportunity to pick up a decent international yield portfolio at a discount.
There you go I told you it was a dull end to a dull week. As a result though I have been watching and listening to a few interesting bits and pieces this week - so if I can work up the enthusiasm I might try and do a weekend post for you with a round up of those. Failing that have a great weekend and hopefully we might have a more interesting week next week, although given the Greek situation and with the old saying in mind, perhaps I should be careful what I wish for?
We have had results today from two companies that I have written on in the past namely Picton Property Income & RPC Group (click the names to read previous comments). In the case of Picton (PCTN) it is a little unfair to say a flat share price as that only really applies in the last 5 months or so as you can see in the chart below.
Prior to that as I had flagged before this property trust had delivered decent shareholder total returns of 50% in their previous year and has followed that up with a further 32% return in their latest results for the year to March 2015. When I last wrote on this one back in March this year they were at 72p which is roughly where they are today, although the latest announced NAV is catching up with the price coming in at 69p so the premium is now smaller than it was.
Going forward they have already announced that they intend to increase this years dividend from 3p to 3.3p which at 72p will give a gross yield of 4.58% which should still be covered as they continue to invest the proceeds of their most recent fund raising in income producing assets with another deal also being announced today.
So as the commercial property market seems to have some momentum behind it maybe this one can make some further progress in the year ahead, but again I would probably expect the rate of progress to slow again this year. Despite that this still looks like a good way to play growth in the sector in a diversified fashion with a decent yield too.
Moving onto RPC Group (RPC) I guess this is one where the flat share price tag perhaps is more relevant if you look at their chart below in so far as it is at around the same level as it was a year ago when I last wrote it up after their results at that time. However this masks some distortions and big swings that resulted from their acquisition related rights issue. Last year I mentioned that this is often a good opportunity to add cheaply to a holding during the process. Indeed I followed my own advice from last year and picked up some more of this one around the 500p level during last years rights issue.
This has worked out OK as the issue has been digested and they have started to bed in the acquisition of Promens Group and they have doubled the suggested synergies from this to €30m per annum in today results announcement. In this
they delivered revenues and earnings slightly ahead of consensus but the dividend was slightly light, due to the adjustment for the rights issue, coming in at 15.4p rather than the 15.7p that had been forecast, although it was still up by 12% in line with earnings against the re-based comparative. This extends their record to 22 years of rising dividends since the Group listed in the early 1990's (see my previous post for more history / Company details and today's results).
Looking at current forecast for the coming year, assuming no great changes after these figures suggests earnings of around 45p with a 17.5p dividend but up by around 11%. At a share price of 639p (+3.4% today) this would leave them on around 14x with a yield of 2.74%. This gives me a strange sense of deja vu as this is almost exactly the same prospective rating that it stood on when I wrote about it a year or so ago and back then I said it "seems fair for this well managed business."
It seems worth repeating this year so ditto and I note the shares are also approaching the highs of last year which could act as resistance in the short term as they approach over bought levels. I guess time will tell if they can break out from this range which might be a bullish sign for a re-rating, but in the absence of that I would suggest again that up here they remain a strong hold as part of a more broadly diversified income portfolio.