As I feared in the year end update last month, it seems that returns this year may well not be as good. This may be especially so if the old axiom that so goes January, so goes the year does have any substance to it, although I've seen research in this interesting post that it is not that predictive. This also looks at the thorny issue of market timing & seems to conclude that it is hard to find evidence of it being done successfully.
For what it is worth the market timing indicators that I maintain are still in above trend bullish territory for the larger headline UK indices like FTSE 100, FTSE 350 & FTSE All Share. Interestingly Mid 250 & Smaller Company Indices in the UK have fallen below trend and therefore into sell / beware territory after they were hit hard in January. However, the economic indicators that I use along side those are still positive - so in the absence of a recession, hopefully this will just turn into a normal correction at this stage (10 to 20% or so) rather than a horrible -50% bear market. Of course there are plenty of other things to worry about like cost of living, supply chains, Russian aggression etc. but as the other axiom says - the market climbs a wall of worry.
Given that Mid & Smaller companies led the way down while the larger FTSE 100 held up better, it was probably no surprise that the Compound Income portfolio gave back some out performance as it is more exposed to Mid & Small cap names than the FTSE All Share that I use as a benchmark. Please see the graphs at the top of this post for full details of that and other time periods including the 15% per annum achieved since inception in April 2015.
Update on this months Screening & to the Scores.
No update here on this months screening due to time pressures (more on that in a moment). Subscribers will however have been able to see details of this months trades in the transactions sheet & discussion of those stocks considered in the journal sheet.
Aside from that I have been spending some time working on an update to the Scores to bring a broader set of data and greater stock coverage for those who are interested in shares that do not meet the income requirements to be in the Compound Income Scores investment universe. Rest assured the Compound Income Scores will remain in their current form, just that subscribers will have access to a broader information set & rankings which should give some useful insights into all of the stocks covered including those currently in the Compound Scores universe.
Watch this space for a further post with details about the enlarged and enhanced scores when they become available. Any way mind how you go out there in these tricky markets, hopefully with all the focus on inflation & a cost of living crisis doesn't mean we are flying back to a 1970's style stagflation environment. With that in mind I'll leave you with an appropriately naff song from that period.
Compound Income Scores Portfolio Performance
October didn’t turn out to be such a dangerous or spooky month as it has done in the past or as Mark Twain once joked. The FTSE All share produced a total return of +1.8%, while the Compound Income Portfolio saw a return to outperformance this month with a total return of +2.4%. This leaves the portfolio with a total return of +27.3% in the year to date which is some 11.7% ahead of the FTSE All Share which I use as a benchmark.
Meanwhile the longer term performance of the Compound Income Scores Portfolio compared to the index is shown in the bar chart graph above. It is pleasing to note that the portfolio has compounded at just over 15% per annum since inception just over 6 years ago, which is also around 10% ahead of the FTSE All Share. See the graph at the end of this post for comparisons with other UK Indices like the FTSE Mid 250 and FTSE Small Cap.
Top contributors to this months outperformance were Luceco (LUCE) & Sylvania Platinum (SLP) as they bounced back from particularly steep falls recently having announced Quarterly updates which seemingly reassured investors. The negative side of the attribution ledger was headed by Qinetiq (QQ.) as their updated disappointed on the back of Geo-political and short term supply chain issues which led to some small downgrades. Admiral (ADM) also tacked backwards for the portfolio this month for no apparent reason other than perhaps the fact that Munich Re placed around 12 million shares from their strategic stake at 2940p. While City Of London Investment Group (CLIG) featured on the negative side this month as the former founder Barry Olliff reduced his stake again at the 550p level and the earnings estimates continued their inexplicable yo-yo run with downgrades this month after last months upgrades. Seemingly one house may be marking to market and currency adjusting on a month by month basis maybe?
British American Tobacco (BATS), EMIS, & Paypoint (PAY) all featured again this month together with Renew Holdings (RNWH) as holdings with scores in the second quartile & as part of the process I therefore consider whether they should remain in the portfolio or if there might be better quality or cheaper alternatives available. Of these I decide to give BATS and EMIS the benefit of the doubt again as their scores were still not that far into the second quartile. BATS remains cheap as they continue to manage the decline of tobacco products and invest in new vaping products & the NHS even approved the use of their Vaping Products recently to help those trying to quit smoking, so that could be a drag on as well as a puff to BATS profits I guess. While EMIS continues to trade well as reported in the results recently and they are confident of hitting their full year targets. So I’ll continue to run that one for now as a quality compounder for even though the rating has got a bit richer, although it and BATS did both underperform last month.
As Paypoint came up yet again I decided to get back to following the process as their score remained anchored around 50, although I was sorely tempted to to hold it again ahead of the H1 results in November. These could still be good and lead to upgrades for the full year – or not as the case may be. So I wouldn’t put you off holding them if you want to. That’s just the way the process is supposed to be applied – so I’m getting back to that and locking in a total return of around 20% from Paypoint since it was purchased for the Portfolio in May this year. Indeed Selling Strix (KETL) on a similar basis last month worked out fortuitously as the shares subsequently fell on the back of some chunky directors sales.
Renew Holdings (RNWH) looked a more finely balanced call as their Score was 67 and they also have results due shortly after a recent positive update, although somewhat surprisingly this has led to some downgrades in the last month. While it seems OK and the results should be fine, I decided to sell this one too given it has re-rated to a fairer looking rating. I also have some concerns about their balance sheet and the way in which they finance their business plus the fact that they are quite acquisitive and seem to have had quite a few write off's subsequently along the way in the past. I could of course be too cautious there, so again feel free to carry on holding if you are so minded to do so.
In addition to the two natural sale candidates which I pushed the button on this month, since I have a lot of performance in the bank this year, I also decided to sell a couple of other higher scoring stocks too. The rationale here being that it was possible to switch into higher Scoring similar alternatives which looked better value.
One was City of London Investment Group (CLIG) mentioned earlier in the performance review. This has been a good performer for the portfolio and again I wouldn’t put you off continuing to hold it. I chose however to switch into one of their larger competitors which has also undertaken an acquisition and is also struggling to grow its assets. It is however trading slightly cheaper than CLIG on traditional value measures and around half their level in terms of its pricing to AUM, although the difference in profitability levels they are currently making may explain some of this.
The second relative value switch I undertook was by selling dot Digital (DOTD) which has been a big winner for the portfolio and nearly trebled since it was acquired in April last year. Now I know this goes against all the advice of running your winners, although that is what I had done already by relaxing my usual valuation biases to get to this position. My natural value tendencies just felt offended with this one on around 60x PE, with an earnings yield of less than 2% and a dividend yield of under 0.5%. They also have results due which should be good given their last update, but unless there are dramatic upgrades on the back of those I think the shares could be vulnerable like other highly rated stocks that have come under pressure recently given rising interest rates on the back of higher inflation. Or failing that going sideways for a while to grow into the rating perhaps.
The stock I switched into, while still a bit rich for my own personal value tendencies, looks to be better value than DOTD after a recent positive update and massive upgrades ahead of their own results due soon too. So I guess time will tell if any of these prove to worthwhile. Subscribers will have seen full details of these in the transactions and the stocks that were purchased against them in the transactions and portfolio sections of their sheets along with brief bullet explanations in the Journal section.
Summary & Conclusion
After a disappointing end to the summer in the UK last month we have had a better start to the Autumn in markets and also for the Compound Income Scores Portfolio as we approach a traditionally stronger seasonal period.
I don’t have a lot to add to last months Macro type comments about the inflation outlook as that seems to remain a feature despite the slight fall back in the head line rate in the UK last month. Consequently some eyes are on Central Banks to see what the say and do with regards to easing back on QE or even raising rates perhaps in the case of the Bank of England. While the budget passed by without any further hits to investors.
I say some eyes as markets seem to have remained frothy (especially in the US) as they have rallied again towards their highs and some speculative rubbish and SPAC’s seem to be taking the lead again despite stretched valuations over there. I guess all we can do in poor old Blighty is be thankful that our market looks better value as it has been so far off the pace that it looks quite cheap and has big exposure to the non ESG sectors like oils and miners plus a fair share of Banks that it might just hold up better in a sell off if we’re lucky.
Any way as this is already over a thousand word post I’ll leave you there with the graph of the longer term performance that I promised at the beginning as a picture paints a thousand words and a couple of music videos. Otherwise may I wish you good returns from your investments this month and hope that it doesn’t rain too much in November wherever you are.
Compound Income Scores Portfolio Performance
So the brief spell of Summer like weather gave way to a more soggy end to the month and so it proved in the Stock market too. The FTSE All share after a strong start in line with the weather sold off mid month before recovering somewhat toward the end and returned -1% for the month as a result. This relapse in the market came as there were some concerns about a Chinese property developer going bust and that being a Lehman type moment for the Chinese economy. The authorities there seem to have that under control though, but on going inflation worries and supply constraints in certain areas also weighed on sentiment more generally.
Meanwhile the long run of outperformance by the Compound Income Scores Portfolio since last November finally came to an end in a very disappointing fashion as it returned – 5.9% on the month. The Portfolio has outperformed by over 10% in the year to date with a total return of 24.4% and it has compounded at just over 15% per annum since inception just over 6 years ago.
It is therefore perhaps not too surprising, given the strong run it had prior to this, that some underperformance at some point was probably inevitable. In addition the FTSE 100 held up better than the Mid and Small cap parts of the market where the portfolio has been and remains overweight. That’s just the nature of this investing game and you have to take the rough with the smooth as I always say and not get carried away when things are going well and equally not get panicky or depressed when you have a bad run. As long as you have confidence in your process and are prepared to accept some volatility in your capital in the short term for potential gains in the longer term, which is after all what investing is all about.
There were quite a few contributors to the poor performance this month with 6 stocks underperforming by more than 10% on either fundamental news flow or profit taking in the main. The two worst examples were CMC Markets (CMCX) which fell by around 30% on the back of a poor trading update / profits warning as markets became calmer over the summer and they saw some relapse from the extra trading they had seen in the previous quarters and last year when the pandemic was in full swing.
The other big faller to a similar extent was Luceco (LUCE) which succumbed to a heavy bout of profit taking as their excellent results didn’t lead to any further upgrading of forecasts. This profit taking was probably also prompted by their honesty in admitting that they had seen an extra boost from Covid trading and highlighting cost pressures, although they have been able to deal with those thus far. Their Score fell back to the lower end of the top quartile as they did see a few small downgrades on the month but it stays in the portfolio on that basis and it now also looks better value on a mid teens PE with a well covered 2.5% or so yield.
On the positive side of things there were not too many, but S & U (SUS) put in a good performance after their trading update which led to upgrades which I covered in the mid month update post. While City Of London Investment Group (CLIG) responded well to their full year results reported in mid month which led to some upgrades. While the 10% increase in the dividend for the year was also presumably well received given the dividend background surrounding the pandemic.
British American Tobacco (BATS), EMIS, Strix Group (KETL) & Paypoint (PAY) all featured as holdings with scores in the second quartile this month & as part of the process I therefore consider whether they should remain in the portfolio or if there might be better cheaper alternatives available. Of these I decide to give BATS and EMIS the benefit of the doubt as their scores were not that far into the second quartile. BATS remains cheap as they continue to manage the decline of tobacco products and invest in new vaping products.
While EMIS continues to trade well as reported in the results recently and they are confident of hitting their full year targets. So I’ll continue to run that one as a quality compounder for now although the rating has got a bit richer. I also decided to keep Paypoint again as they enter their close period ahead of the H1 results in November. A further director purchase by the General Council and Head of Compliance just before that helped to sway my decision, while the coming energy price hikes should help to boost their declining bills paying business.
I did however decide to let Strix Group (KETL) go as a bit like Luceco, even though they did report good results they also struck a note of caution on current market conditions and saw a few small downgrades. In addition the rating was not that cheap on still over 21x PE and with a Score of less than 50. Nevertheless it does appear to be a good quality business with a well protected dominant market position, so I wouldn’t put you off holding it for the long term. That’s just the way the Scores process works and it also felt like the time to rotate into some better value given the inflation / interest rate outlook. With the proceeds from this sale and some cash which had accumulated from dividends over the summer I was able to add a couple of better value situations.
One was a housebuilder, despite my own personal reservations about the timing of this, but as several had appeared towards the top of the list I decided to follow the Scores even if they may be a bit rear view mirror in this case. Housebuilders will probably never be highly rated given their cyclicity, but they currently look fairly cheap within their usual 7 to 10x PE rating ranges. This probably reflects concerns about over heating post the ending of the stamp duty holiday, affordability, plus labour costs and materials pricing and availability. Against that interest rates remaining low (for now) and the on going supply demand dynamics continue to offer support. So again I’d leave you to decide if this is a sector you want to participate in. There was also a good Podcast from Money Week which featured an interview with Gary Cannon of Phoenix Asset Management, who had some interesting comments on the builders and remains a bull of the sector.
The other value stock I added, was even cheaper than the housebuilders and subscribers will have seen the details of this in their Scores sheet. In addition to this I also decided to sell CMC Markets (CMCX) on the back of their profits warning (even though it did not score outside the top quartile) and switch into the similar IG Group (IGG) where I prefer the business model and it scores more highly than CMC having had a positive update last month in contrast to CMC.
Summary & Conclusion
After a disappointing end to the summer in the UK we also had a disappointing start to the Autumn in markets and also for the Compound Income Scores Portfolio. This relapse in the market came as there were some concerns about a Chinese property developer going bust and that being a Lehman type moment for the Chinese economy. On going inflation worries and supply constraints in certain areas also weighed on sentiment more generally.
There seem to be concerns that this will retard the on going economic recovery and some of these pressure like supply shortages, commodity price increases and shortages of labour seem likely to put pressure on corporate margins which may well cause the market to continue to struggle in the short term until this picture becomes clearer. Some suggest that this could presage another leg of outperformance for value stocks in the short term if rates rise (or bonds sell off) on the back of higher inflation as hinted at by the US Federal Reserve.
With that in mind I used this months Screening to add a couple of more value orientated shares to the portfolio after taking profits in the more quality growth situation, Strix Group – which had enjoyed a re-rating during its time in the portfolio. While in the UK more widely, the market, for once, seems better placed with its bigger exposure to energy and commodity sectors.
While the UK economy seems to be suffering badly from the after effects of the Pandemic, the resultant supply shortages and the squeeze on energy prices. As a result stagflation fears have stirred given the hit to incomes and coming benefit cuts and tax rises. As a result some fear we might face a Winter of discontent much like the 1970’s which saw three day weeks and power cuts which I remember from my childhood. Despite this politicians have insisted there are no fuel shortages, that Christmas will be fine and that we won’t see power cuts even though some industry representatives claim otherwise.
Given that and the inflation outlook, bonds remain a no go area for me and so personally I continue to rely on a mix of equities and other real & alternative assets to try and maintain and grow my capital and income in real terms. I would highly recommend reading the recent final results from Ruffer Investment Company in this regard and particularly the Investment Managers comments starting on page 19.
After a recent visit to Thatcher’s farm to see their Cider production facilities, it put me in mind of Mrs Thatcher’s comment from the last time we had stagflation & as Maggie May have said "There is no alternative" in terms of sticking with equities. They are simply the best way for me, although I saw that Tina Turner has decided to cash in her royalties which may be the best way for her at her at the age of 81, although I do have a few Hipgnosis Songs Fund (SONG) as part of my alternative assets exposure.
Any way that’s all for now as I must get off down to the shops and get some candles, a frozen turkey before they sell out or go up in price. I’ll leave you with some music appropriate to the above comments.
Compound Income Scores Portfolio Performance
Further to the Mid Month Update - some masterly inactivity proved to be profitable again in August as the Compound Income Scores Portfolio outperformed again. This month it was by a more modest 0.72% versus the FTSE All Share Index which I use as a benchmark to measure the the performance against. This continues a run of monthly out performance since last November - so nine months in a row. So it is good to see the Portfolio delivering a scorching performance & plenty of blue even if summer in the UK has rather disappointing visage and tended to Fade to Grey.
Of the top contributors two of the three that were mentioned in the last post on here namely: Strix Group (KETL) and Paypoint (PAY). While Luceco (LUCE) the LED lighting and electrical accessories provider continued its strong run and re-rating on the back of their strong operating performance and financial targets.
On the downside the three largest detractors included a couple of mining stocks Sylvania Platinum (SLP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) on the back of mixed results in the case of the former and weaker metals prices which hit sentiment & triggered profit taking on both of them. While Jarvis Securities (JIM) also suffered some price weakness after going XD two dividends totalling 12p in late July & during August & probably saw some profit taking after a very strong share price response to their recent trading update.
In terms of activity, looking back it is pleasing to note that the reduction to SLP at 131p on risk control grounds given the size the position had got to back in June worked well given it is now trading at just under 100p. This is especially so when one of the trades at that time included the initial purchase of LUCE at 344p vs the current 480p.
Looking at the longer term, aside from the recent monthly run of out performance it is good to see a sea of blue in the returns bar chart shown towards the top of the page, but that's a bull market for you as a rising tide generally lifts all boats. Nevertheless it is encouraging as an indicator of the power of the Scores to help with selecting decent income growth stocks. As evidenced by the fact that assuming the portfolio doesn't have a massive under performance in the next four months, then it should have outperformed the FTSE All Share for five years running too. While since inception in April 2015 it has compounded at 16.4% per annum versus the 5.5% from the Index over the same time period.
Finally on this I came across this graph which I think is quite useful in putting the above performance in context and probably helps to explain why the portfolio struggled from March to November last year during the inflection point / recovery phase, but has done better as we have moved into the expansion phase & they seem to have done OK in the other phases too.
This month I continued to await results on three stocks with second quintile scores - EMIS (mentioned last month), Renew Holdings (RNWH ) & Sureserve (SUR) whose scores this month had also drifted down on no news but have results shortly. I also exercised some judgement on one stock Paypoint (PAY) which again featured in the Scoring zone where I consider its position in the portfolio.
Having given it the benefit of the doubt last month this had paid off as detailed in the Mid Month Update post thanks to the OFGEM situation and the subsequent multiple director purchases which led to a strong share price performance last month. Thus it was a closer call as they have re-rated more towards the sort of initial rating and levels that I outline when I presented it in the Stockslam back in May this year. If that event looks like something you'd be interested in there is another one due next week which you can sign up for here but I am not be presenting in this one.
Thus it was a closer call as to whether to retain it this month after such a strong run had left the shares which had gone XD another 8.3p dividend too, looking overbought and vulnerable to some mean reversion potentially in the month ahead. On balance though I decided to keep given the directors buying & the proximity to the end of their latest interim period at the end of September. They do not normally put out an update on that but I'm gambling that given the directors buying, re-opening benefits and the pick up in card based transactions & imminent energy price hikes might force them to put out a positive trading update if they are trading more than 10% ahead of expectations. Technically they also seemed to have broken out of a tight range which could also target higher levels around 750p - 780p and previous rally highs in that range. So we will have to wait and see if that was some more masterly inactivity or if I have pushed my luck too far and get whacked by mean reversion & no positive update being forthcoming.
I did however break my run of masterly inactivity when I decided to lock in profits on the Ultra Electronics (ULE) bid situation which is not due to complete until Q1 2022. Now while there is still a fairly attractive return of around 9% or so available assuming the bid goes through at £35, there is also a small risk that it could be referred on national interest grounds etc. In that case I'd think the price could sink back towards £20 so the risk reward didn't look that favourable even if the risk is low. So on balance I took profits and reinvested in a similar space as Qinetiq (QQ.) made a return to the portfolio ahead of their September period end.
Summary & Conclusion.
So another positive month, helped by last months inactivity and some trades from earlier in the year & despite the summer doldrums in markets & on going concerns about inflation and the likely actions of the US Federal Reserve. This continues the run since last November and the vaccine led expansion phase in the economy which has suited the Scores more than the recovery phase from the initial inflection point from all the Central bank & government support.
As a result the Portfolio is, barring a disaster in the next few months closing in on five straight years of out performance, which in the investing world is quite rare I believe. Any way if you'd like to access the Scores to help you with your stock selection then don't forget you can sign up via in the menu section titled Scores. If that's of any interest you'll be able to subscribe for a years access for the equivalent of just £1 a week - about the price of a single cup of coffee in McDonald's these days!
There is also a short presentation about them in the sub menu of the Scores section there too, as well as the new feature for Subscribers to view the Scores in google sheets directly from the site if they wish. If any Dropbox subscribers would like to be able to access the Scores directly from the site like this then please get in touch via e-mail or the contact box on the site and I'll sort that for you.
Any way that's all for now thanks for reading if you got this far and here's to hoping the promised Indian summer this weekend last more than a few days here in the UK.
Compound Income Scores Portfolio Performance
The Portfolio just about managed to keep up its record of out performing the FTSE All Share this month, although in all honestly both of them returned little more than nothing.
It does however leave the portfolio with a total return of +21.5% in the year to date which is more than 10% ahead of the FTSE All Share which I use as a benchmark. This and other performance statistics over longer time periods and since inception can be seen in the table above. This is also shown in the graph with comparisons against various Indices.
There were three candidates to be considered for action / sale this month based on where their Scores had moved down to. Two of these have trading updates due in July and one was still flagged as a buy on momentum grounds, so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. I also did this with the third candidate as it was a recent addition to the portfolio and despite some post results downgrades it still looks good value and appears oversold while the momentum indicator suggest holding. So after last months splurge of activity in terms of transactions I made this a nothing month on that front as we approach the quieter summer months and the silly season as it is known.
Summary & Conclusion
Sorry not much to summarise as the returns were nothing to write home about and there was nothing to report on the trade front. In conclusion after a nothing month at the end of a robust first half in markets it does leave one wondering if markets might be losing some momentum perhaps? This is especially so as we move toward the traditionally quieter summer months and investors continue to fret about inflation and whether it will be transitory (consensus I think) or more long lasting (potential for a negative surprise).
While strong growth and upgrades are being seen currently and are probably expected to continue, again there is a risk I'd say that these hopes could be dashed if re-opening is disappointing or delayed again or, heaven forbid, the virus should somehow get more troublesome again.
Any way I'll not spend too much time worrying about that this Summer as hopefully we can all get back out there are enjoy ourselves properly assuming all the remaining restrictions are lifted in July as promised. In the meantime an Englishman can dream that after 55 year the England Football team might come back home from a tournament with something rather than nothing this month!