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.
Market Timing Indicators
Given the positive returns from headline UK indices like FTSE in September, these remained positive, although with the Mid 250 & Small Cap indices showing lower returns in September these are now less bullish than the larger / broader indices like FTSE 100 & 350.
Elsewhere all the economic indicators are still in positive / bullish territory with the US Unemployment rate for example hitting a near 50 year low yesterday at 3.7%. Which all suggests that one should continue to remain fully invested.
I note that the US bond market continues to sell off as the economic strength means bond investors are discounting further rises from the Fed ahead in the near term, but at least the yield curve has not inverted yet (see graph at the start) which also still suggests no reason to take evasive action just yet.
I do however stand by the note of caution I struck last month with the snippet about Warren Buffet's cash levels. Indeed despite all the positive economic news out of the US, the markets are starting to feel a bit nervous again as bond yields head upwards and as we head into October which is often a dangerous month to invest. So with that in mind I'll end this section with a link to the latest memo from another famous investor, Howard Marks - who is cautioning about the potential for fall out from bonds and debt this time around.
September proved to be another disappointing month for the CIS Portfolio as it produced another negative return of -0.9%. Unlike August this represented an underperformance of 1.6% versus the FTSE All Share Index, which I use as a benchmark, produced a positive return of 0.7% in September.
The main damage was done by Alliance Pharma (APH) which reported interim results which on the face of it seemed fine if a little dull. They did however include a small write off of £2.5m non-cash impairment charge on its investment in Synthasia International Co., an infant milk formula business in which it has a 20% stake. Consequently reported earnings fell by 35%, but underlying they edged ahead. This write off and consequent fall in the earnings, plus the high valuation they were sitting on, may have prompted some to sell and the price therefore took a hell of a beating and ended the month down by 30.5% - which seems a bit over done to me. Aside from that the other less extreme fallers in September were Zytronic (ZYT) - 9.3% - on no news apart from a long serving non executive leaving. While Avon Rubber (AVON) fell 7.2% as it's in line trading update presumably disappointed some investors who may have been hoping for a better outcome.
On the positive side the main winners were a mixed bag of Ferrexpo (FER) +22.7% on no news as it recovered somewhat from a long losing streak. While Taptica International (TAP) +14.3% & Churchill China (CHH) +14% both responded positively to their results statements reported in the last month.
In this months screening three shares came up as potential sales, although in each case their Scores were only just below the 75 cut off that I use. The three candidates were the aforementioned Alliance Pharma (APH), Forterra (FORT) and Spectris (SXS). In the end I decided to give them all the benefit of the doubt given they were all closed to the threshold and not therefore obvious sales. In addition I felt disinclined to sell APH down here given it looked oversold and was now offering more reasonable value, which in the week since has been vindicated by a small rally in the share price.
Forterra, despite some very modest downgrades, still seems cheap and all the talk is still of trying to build more houses. So one would think that demand for their product should still have solid foundations for now. It was also close to what could be a support level.
Finally Spectris also had very modest downgrades but also seemed to be offering reasonable value, although in the week since then it has come off a bit more. So overall my override of the mechanical sale process has probably just about broken even on a very short term view ex of any trading costs and opportunity cost of not buying potential alternatives.
Any way I'll see how they come out in next month screening & get back with the programme then.
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.
Just a quick note to say that the latest Compound Income Scores have been updated again today. Meanwhile as promised here are brief details about the trades that were carried out in the CIS Portfolio which is run using the scores. This month there were three potential sales, although in the end I gave VP Group (VP) the benefit of the doubt as they had issued an in line trading update and final results are due in June.
Consequently Central Asia Metals (CAML) and Portmeirion (PMP) whose scores had deteriorated both left the portfolio having delivered decent returns over about a year in the case of CAML & just three months in the case of PMP. CAML was replaced directly with a similar stock with a higher score - Rio Tinto (RIO) albeit that it is much bigger and more diversified in terms of its operations. While PMP was replaced with Mondi (MNDI) the much larger , international packaging group where the portfolio then picked up the final & special dividends which gave an immediate yield of 6.27%, although obviously the price will have adjusted down accordingly on the XD day.
Finally in a bit of portfolio tidying up I also topped up a couple of holdings which had lagged with some of the proceeds of the above sales and from some cash that had accrued from dividends. Thus holdings in Headlam (HEAD) & Ferrexpo (FXPO) were topped up. I know this goes against all the suggestions of running your winners and cutting your losers but in this case FXPO continues to score extremely well and HEAD's score is still quite good at 88 and the CIS portfolio will also pick up the final dividend of 17.25p worth 3.88% which goes xd towards the end of May.
That's all for now but don't forget if you would like to learn more about the Scores and how to gain access to them or learn more about the CIS Portfolio then do explore the navigation links at the top of the site if you are on a PC or in the three lines menu at the top if you are on a mobile or tablet or click the highlighted links in the first paragraph. Good luck with your investing and have a great weekend whatever you are up to.
We have had a couple of updates today from stocks in the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP), namely Games Workshop (GAW), Ferrexpo (FXPO) & one from Stock Spirits (STCK) which has been in the portfolio and which nearly made it in at the last re-screening this month. If none of those are of interest no doubt you'll click away now, but if they are read on.