After Red October we have had something of a Black & Red November in so far as there was Black Friday & the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP) ended in the black too. While the red came from the FTSE All Share which ended November in the red and the Monthly timing indicators which remain in negative territory too. Please see the Portfolio Menu at the top of the site or in the three bar menu if you are on a mobile device & want to see the full table of returns or other summary details about the portfolio.
In terms of this months screening for the CISP it was another mixed bag as three potential sale candidates came up as their scores had slipped below the 75 level that I use for reviewing holdings. I decided to retain two of these as their scores were only slightly below 75. One of these was again Alliance Pharma (APH) which I have already given one stay of execution to, but given the volatile markets I would expect it to be a bit more defensive from here. The other was Bloomsbury Publishing (BMY) which is a classic dividend growth stock & has the stronger second half trading period to come so here I was also reluctant to ditch it on limited news flow. The one I did choose sell was Ferrexpo (FXPO) which apart form appearing to be very cheap, I don't feel that strongly about. It could well suffer badly if we see an economic downturn (which may be what the rating is discounting) plus the portfolio retains a holding in Rio and therefore some exposure to the sector. Given the way economies are shaping up it doesn't seem like a bad time to be reducing this type of exposure.
To replace this I selected a different type of miner that scores highly, in this case a data miner as it were called D4T4 Solutions (D4T4). This £74m market cap. company seems to be a play on internet / big data type of thing and as such may be interesting after all the GDPR stuff earlier this year. Indeed their recent interim results were exceptionally strong, although this was to some extent offsetting a big drop off in business that they saw last year. So it may just be a lumpy type of business or perhaps this could be the start of a more rapid growth phase given the actions they have taken since last year.
If they can repeat the strong growth in h2 then I suspect there could be bigger upgrades down the line, but as ever time will tell on that. Nevertheless they look quite good value on around 15 to 16x predicated on a strong bounce back from last years fall in earnings. The yield is lower than I would normally look for at 1.5% or so, but otherwise it seemed like the most attractive addition to the portfolio which brings something different to the party.
It does also seem to have momentum as it is threatening to break above recent highs and maybe could even go onto hit all time highs around 280p that it set around the year 2000 if the second half proves as strong as the first half, or not as the case may be! Any way I guess it will not be every ones cup of tea and I'm not sure I can bring myself to buy it personally, so we'll have to see how it goes for the CISP.
Now that the dust has settled on the recent bout of volatility, just thought I'd put a few thought down and provide an update on the January screening of the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP). So taking the market first as I suspect that will be of more interest, it has obviously come as a bit of a shock to many that share prices can go down as well as up! This is because we had been lulled into a false sense of security by the seemingly never ending story of Central Bank Quantitative Easing or QE as it is known. This led to an extraordinary period of smoothly rising asset prices, or a bull market in everything as one wag called it.
This period seems to be coming to a close as the US Federal Reserve had already started raising rates from the emergency levels which had endured for years and had quite clearly sign posted a route to the withdrawal or reversal of QE over the coming quarters a kind of Quantitative tightening or QT as it were. Stock markets had ignored these signals, even as bonds started to sell off, causing some famous bond investors to call the end of the long bond bull market. Equity investors were aided in this myopia by stronger economic statistics and the US government passing some hefty corporate tax cuts which further boosted animal spirits & hopes of stronger growth. These moves in bond yields were accelerated and brought into sharper focus after the US Non Farm Payrolls and Unemployment data last Friday came in with another strong reading and showed unemployment sticking at 4.1%. The fly in the ointment was however a pick up in wage growth, which in turn fed into fears of rising inflation and hence the knock onto bond yields and ultimately equity markets.
Now I'm not saying that this divergence originally was irrational as earnings, share buy backs and dividends tend to drive stock market returns along with expansion and contraction of the multiple that investors are prepared to pay for those earnings. Given the benign background on the back of QE and recent signs of accelerating growth investors chose to focus on that and bid up stock prices in an exponential fashion, rather than worrying about the build up of debt, rising bond yields and the probable prospect of at least three interest rate rises from the Fed this year. Last weeks events seem to have brought about a reassessment and a quick bought of profit taking which has then led to more volatility as some automated algorithms probably kicked in too. Thus equity investor may now reconsider how much they are prepared to pay.
Any way enough of the rationalizing already, what to make of it all? Personally I wouldn't be too concerned just yet, given the stronger economic background discussed above. Thus this is probably just one of those normal periodic corrections of up to 10 to 20% that you quite often get in stock markets. Quite frankly if you are not prepared for that, which is the price you pay for investing in volatile equities then you should probably not be investing in the stock market at all. In addition to that you also need to be prepared to see the value of your equity portfolio potentially cut in half, when a really bad bear market rolls around, usually on the back of a recession or more recently the financial crisis. Now that is relevant here as I don't see a risk of recession in the statistics that are coming our from the US and elsewhere at the moment and that's why I say this is probably just one of those normal periodic corrections. Going forward I will however continue to watch the US unemployment & ISM numbers as well as the shape of the yield curve which has proved to be one of the best advanced indicators of a coming recession.
So no great change to my strategy as I want to remain invested in real assets and to benefit from the power of Compounding, but I will look to reduce risk when and if a recession seems to be on the horizon. On which the only thing I can add is that in recent decades we usually seem to have had either events like recessions, the dot com crash in 1999 and the early 2000's and the financial crisis in 2007-9 starting or having their effect late in each decade with the effects extending into the early part of the next decade. Earlier back in time I'm thinking of the late 1970's peak and early eighties recession, the late eighties peak and early 1990's recession etc. As the old saying goes history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes so as we approach the end of this decade it seems we may well be overdue another recession or event but as ever I guess time will tell.
Update on the CIS Portfolio
So if you are still with me I'll finish up with a quick review of this months CISP Screening. There were three potential sale candidates that came up this month, Wynstay (WYN) which was a clear sell on the scores and two which were much more marginal - Bloomsbury Publishing (BMY) and Unilever (ULVR). On balance I decide to give the latter two the benefit of the doubt. In the case of Bloomsbury I was tempted as it was a the top of its trading range and looked as though it could be breaking out of what has been a fairly well defined trading range, plus there had not really been any news flow recently which is why the score had moved down on unchanged earnings. I must admit I was tempted to let it go though because of the trading range. Sadly I didn't, as when the volatility hit it promptly collapsed back toward the bottom of its range where it is now looking over sold, so maybe there's a buying opportunity there again now?
On Unilever they had just reported results and having come back from their highs it was starting to look better value and a tad oversold. Thus I thought I'd leave that for another month and see how the market digests the figures, although I note that the earnings have been downgraded since - knocking the Score further. So we shall probably have to bite the bullet and sell it at next months screening, but we will at least pick up the dividend this month.
The replacement for Wynstay was Portmeirion (PMP) - the exciting (OK I made that up) ceramic tableware, cookware, gift ware and tabletop accessories provider. Not that being dull is a bad thing in the stock market it can mean that an attractive business is overlooked. In this case that is what the Scores are saying as it had upgrades after its recent trading update and looks reasonable value if not an outright bargain on around 13x with a 3.75% yield for the coming year. My only doubt is that it has been flat lining for the last 18 months or so after a sell of in mid 2016 on a trading disappointment I seem to remember, although it had done pretty well in the years prior to that. Since then the market has been strong and maybe enough time has now elapsed since the trading problem which may mean it's not such a bad time to get into it - I guess time will tell?
Finally I've been updating the Scores daily this week for subscribers so they can keep up to date with the moves in Scores on the back of the price moves and search for good value over sold stock. So if you would like to be able to do that too do check out the Scores page for details.
Lots of results from my kind of stocks and too many for me to go into great detail. So look out for results and updates from the likes of Britvic (BVIC), Nichols (NICL) & Unilever (ULVR) in the food, drinks and personal care area. Britvic & Nichols have both made add on acquisitions which should enhance their growth prospects. There is also a small (5%) placing from Britvic to help fund their Brazilian deal and it looks the best value of these stocks on a mid teens PE compared to 20x+ for the other two.
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) have reported more fund outflows reflecting investor worries on emerging and far eastern markets and less favourable investing conditions generally. They do however flag their strong balance sheet and diversification efforts but the market doesn't seem to like it.
Meanwhile after my DIY efforts yesterday and my purchases from Screwfix which is owned by Kingfisher (KGF) I see their results seem OK with even France finally showing some signs of life. Bloomsbury Publishing (BMY) have also had a good start to the year in what is a quiet quarter for them any way. Finally SSE has reiterated their earnings expectations and promised dividend increases at least in line with RPI going forward from the current full year dividend which gives a yield of 5.5%.
That's all for now as I am preparing to do a piece with the ADVFN Podcaster Justin Waite at Sharepickers.com today. So I'll try and do a quick update later with what I'm covering and details of where you can listen to it if that is of interest to you.