So here we are half way though the year already and for once we seem to be having a proper summer in the UK, as the jet stream is apparently behaving itself this year. Fortunately, like the weather the UK stock market has also picked up and started to behave itself after a decidedly chilly first quarter, although June did provide a modestly negative total return. See the table below for full details.
Source: FTSE Russell
Consequently the Monthly market timing indicators that I track for the UK indices all remain ahead of their respective moving averages by around 4%, although only 2% in the case of small caps as they have lagged the broader recovery this quarter. Thus these are signalling that it should be safe to carry on compounding as do the economic indicators that I monitor.
With that in mind moving onto the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP) - it was another good month for the portfolio. It produced a total return of +2.61% for the month which compares with the -0.18% from the FTSE All Share which I compare it to. This leaves it up by 6.6% YTD, which is 4.9% ahead of the above index. The star this month was Auto Trader (Auto) which roared up by 21.3% on the back of well received results. While I'm glad I gave VP the benefit of the doubt last month ahead of its results, as they also rose by 14.7% when these were well received too. The third double digit riser was Tapitica (TAP) which bounced back more on relief that it's update was not a warning like the one produced by XL Media, which the Scores managed to get the CISP out of before it happened.
On the downside Ferrexpo (FXPO) continued to sink like a lead balloon on the back of trade war fears leading to falling metals prices, while Bellway (BWY), despite a good update, suffered from profit talking as some others in the sector seemed to be indicating that margin may come under pressure from here. So maybe this is as good as it gets for housebuilders perhaps? Finally Spectris (SXS) fell by 8% but I can't see anything that might have caused that other than a catch all profit taking comment.
Since inception just over three years ago it means that the CISP has achieved annualized returns of 19.9% per annum, not bad although that's not a patch on the 50% per annum returns reported by @Glasshalffull1 on Twitter. Finally on the numbers don't forget you can get a breakdown of the monthly performance via a link on the Portfolio page or by clicking here if it's too hot for you to click twice.
So everything in the Stock Market garden appears rosy at the moment even if the actual garden is looking a bit scorched as we continue with the proper summer referenced earlier and the continuous blue skies. Indeed for recent investors it must seem like blue skies every day in the stock market these days. It is however worth remembering that stock markets tend to be leading indicators of trouble ahead and can and do start corrections or have crashes even when the skies seem blue, think 1987 crash, 2000 .com bear market and of course the financial crisis in 2008.
Now I'm not saying that one of those events is imminent, but worth bearing in mind that we have had a 9 year bull market already and the US Federal Reserve seems likely to continue raising rates and as the old saying goes "don't fight the Fed." So at some point the effects of that and the withdrawal of liquidity by other Central Banks around the world will, like the sun and plants in the garden, cause stock market returns to wilt, in the same way that it lubricated them on the way up.
Finally since we're having a Summer a bit like 1976 I'll leave you with a track from that year, the lyrics from which stating "You can check in any time you like but you can never leave..." also seem appropriate to the seemingly impossible BREXIT negotiations where re-moaner rebels seem intent on ensuring that we never actually leave. Indeed I've doubted all along if we would ever actually leave and I continue to think I'll believe it when and if I see it.
After that I'll just share another video which I saw recently featuring Paul McCartney which was both funny & moving at the same time. If you dind't see it and even if you don't like James Corden I'd recommend it as it might change your mind - enjoy and have a great summer.
Bellway (BWY) - which has been in the CISP since inception just over three years ago has had a trading update today. While not explicitly stated by them this appears to be of the in line to slightly ahead type. Based on the volumes and increased number of homes they expect to complete and the indicated margins I estimate that they should come in ahead of existing forecasts by around 2%. So we may see some modest upgrades or a small beat of the full year numbers when they are announced.
Thus it seems steady as she goes for this 5 star housebuilder (as measured by the Home Builders’ Federation Customer Satisfaction survey) as they continue to deliver excellent growth on the back of firm pricing, albeit with signs of slowing and help from the Government's help to buy scheme.
The rating on the shares remains around 7 to 8x and they offer a well covered 4% yield too. The growth in the market and their earnings and dividends over the last three years has helped the shares to nearly double while the rating has remained largely unchanged. Thus demonstrating the power of compounding from what many would write off as a dull, cyclical business - which it is, or because they fear an imminent collapse in the housing market. In the short term this is probably not enough to get the market excited as they are off this morning first thing. However, as it continues to score well and they continue to deliver the houses, profits, earnings and dividends, it will remain in the portfolio until the music stops.
Jarvis (JIM) has announced a Q1 dividend of 5p per share , which is up by 17.9% on last year.
I would expect they have continued to trade well in light of this and if anything the recent volatility may have meant they saw more trading activity too. This plus their previous positive updates leads me to suspect they will beat market forecasts for this year as these do not seem to have been updated. Just talking next years numbers as currently forecast leaves it on a reasonable looking 16x with a yield of likely over 4% as they have come back recently with the market.
There was also a trading update from Bellway (BWY) a long standing member of the CISP. This was for their first half which appears to suggest revenue growth in excess of 13%, which is roughly in line with rates of growth factored into current forecasts for the year as a whole. This came from a combination of 6.3% higher completions and increased selling prices of 7.8%, while they say the outlook is still positive despite the rise in interest rates in November. They also say they expect margins just above 22% for H1 and at that level for the full year if the market conditions remain the same.
In this positive trading environment, they say "interest from customers remains high, with website traffic and visitors to sales outlets both ahead of last year. Reservations have followed their usual seasonal trend, with the quieter, albeit positive, summer period followed by an increase in activity over the autumn months. The Group has taken 178 reservations per week (2017 – 166), an increase of 7.2% compared to the same period last year and the cancellation rate, a barometer of customer confidence, remains low at under 11% (2017 – under 12%)."
So overall sounds like a steady as she goes kind of update which probably won't lead to many changes in forecasts. The shares, as ever, look excellent value on around 8x with a 4% yield having come back £3 or so from their 12 month high recently which has left them looking a bit oversold.
Just a quick update on the performance of the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP). After such a promising start it was a fairly disappointing month in the end. FTSE 100 and the broader FTSE All Share Index both ended the month with total returns of nearly -2%, while the Mid 250 stocks did slightly worse with -2.24%. As is often the way at the start of a sell off (if that's what this is) the Fledgling & Small Cap Indices held up better with Small Caps flat and Fledgling stocks actually delivering positive returns of 1.83%. The more general weakness seems to have been led by nervousness about rising bond yields on the back of the gradual withdrawal of Central Bank Quantitative Easing or QE being therefore replaced by Quantitative Tightening or QT.
So onto the CISP and its returns for the month of January were similarly drab but were at least just about positive at +0.06%. This compared to the 1.93% loss from the FTSE All Share giving 2% of out performance on the month. Since inception of this portfolio in April 2015 it is now up by 68.8% which equates to an annualised return of 25.3%, albeit that this has been achieved in a very favourable market background. Within the portfolio it was pleasing to see one of last months new purchases - Miton Group (MGR) - coming in as the top performer with a near 20% rise, while Hays Group and Bodycote delivered 11.5% and 6.6% respectively on the back of their updates. On the downside the laggards were Games Workshop (-10%), Jupiter Fund Management (-6.1%) & Bellway (-4.3%) which all probably succumbed to profit taking after previous strong performance.
Personally since I'm be using the Compound Income Scores, together with Stockopedia Stock Ranks more this year to manage my portfolios I was also able to benefit from the rise in Miton Group too. I firmly believe that these quant models can be a great help in identifying shares that outperform, as demonstrated by CISP and other portfolios based on ranking sytems. If you are not familiar with the Compound Income Scores (which have been updated for subscribers today) you can read more about the background to them and how to get access to them if you want by clicking here.
Finally we have the US Unemployment data with the non-farm payrolls today. These should still be fine, while the main FTSE Indices all still remain about 2.2 to 2.4% above their moving averages, with the Small Cap index is nearly 4% above. So these still suggest that we should not be that worried about the sell off just yet, although I guess it could develop into something nasty given valuations and the levels of complacency that have built up over the last few years on the back of QE which meant that corrections were few and far between recently.
A couple of positive updates from domestic Companies exposed to what are seen as the vulnerable sectors of Housing and Car sales. Firstly there was Bellway (BWY) the national house builder which has been one of my favourite plays in the sector over the last few years. They continue to look cheap given the on going strong trading and the price fall since the BREXIT vote. The current strong trading is however largely backward looking as they are updating to their year end which was 31st July 2016. Like many others on current trading they say it too early to tell the impact of the vote but they do observe that recent weeks have been encouraging, visitor numbers are still strong and the cancellation rate remains at a historic low. In addition to this they flag a strong forward order book which seems to account for around half of the turnover they did this year and having invested in land they say they are well placed to continue their sizeable contribution to meeting the UK’s requirement for new homes in the year ahead.
Thus they seem reasonably confident of continued strong trading in the year ahead, although I note that analysts have unsurprisingly down graded next years numbers heavily recently to the extent that they now see a near 10% fall for next year. Now as we know analysts are not that good at forecasting so it will remain to be seen if they have been too pessimistic or to optimistic in this regard. Personally I would tend to still be more favourably disposed towards the house builders given all the monetary and probably fiscal support to come and the on going housing shortage which should all help to underpin demand and allow them to keep pumping up the volume and paying out generous dividends. As ever though I guess you pay your money and take your choice and those that believe that the economy and housing market are about to crash on the back of BREXIT will obviously not be going near house builders or may be even shorting them.
Another of my favourite stocks S&U (SUS) the car loan finance company also reported a strong update today. If any thing the Chairman, Anthony Coombs was almost too cocky for my liking when he said: "In contrast to the recent gyrations and doom saying in the stock and currency markets following June's Brexit vote, trading in the real world at our Advantage motor finance business continues as strong and consistent as ever. Customer applications are at a record high with live customer numbers up 39% on last year at over 38,000 whilst margins are being maintained." Again this is largely backwards looking and they did suggest that credit quality was not quite at last years record levels but still within the range of expectations. He then went onto say: "A sound and consistent strategy, substantial investment and a dynamic and committed team both at Advantage and the Group, form the bedrock of S&U's progress. That is why, whatever the current economic uncertainties, we continue to regard the future with great confidence."
Now while I like to see a confident statement from management I do just get a bit worried about hubris kicking in when they start to sound so bullish when things are going well, which as we know in the stock market is not normally a good thing. Despite that caveat it does still look reasonable value on around 13-14x earnings with a near 4% yield. In addition looking at the numbers they are talking about I wouldn't be surprised to see some upgrades on the back of this so on that basis I'll stick with it.