After the carnage of March we had something of a relief rally in April, or as I suggested last month the reflexive rebound stage which is quite common during bear markets. As a result the FTSE All Share managed to bounce back and provide a positive total return of 4.9% for the month. This does however leave it with a negative total return of 21.5% for the year and as you can see from the chart above, the UK market has lagged the recovery in other markets around the world. Some of this lag is probably explained by the make up of the various indices with Nasdaq obviously being helped by it tech bias and the FTSE 100 in the UK being held back in the main by its heavy exposure to more vulnerable sectors like Banks & Oil.
Talking of Oils and the headline on the chart about markets being detached from economic reality. I think we had a dose of that the other day as Royal Dutch Shell finally bowed to the inevitable and cut their dividend for the first time since the war. In addition results in the US from a couple of the market darlings, Apple & Amazon were somewhat underwhelming too.
Thus it looks like we may have seen the best of the rally for now and we might even be into the next down leg of the bear market or again as I suggested last month the drawn-out fundamental downtrend.
Indeed referring back to my FTSE ready reckoner that I shared in my recent webcast, with the Royal Dutch Shell dividend cut this week, this brings the 50% dividend cut for the market more into view and futures market is suggesting that too. This would also be in line with the worst case scenario foreseen by Link Asset Services in their Q1 2020 Dividend Monitor update. Thus the risk reward from where we were (briefly) above 6,000 on FTSE recently looks skewed to the downside I would suggest.
While it is worth remembering how bear markets pan out and there was a good reminder of that recently in a good post on the Real Investment website (see highlighted link above) that I recommended in a recent post and on Twitter. Below is their graphic on how the current one compares to the last two bear markets and the different phases discussed above.
Market Timing Indicators
As for the market timing indicators, which to remind you turned negative in February and were confirmed when the US Unemployment rate and other economic indicators indicated that a recession was coming in March. Despite the rally in April these still remain some way (about 12 to 14%) below their trend moving averages suggesting that one should still be cautious of the market from here. Indeed if you feel over exposed and didn't reduce before, the recent rally has probably given you a good opportunity to adjust if you don't want to ride it out for the long term.
With that in mind, on that same Real Investment Website mentioned earlier, there was a slightly alarming post about CSPA (crash statistical probability analyses) and Bull & Bear Tracker algorithms. These seem to have called the recent low and are now calling the end of the rally, as per previous bear markets. It is also making the following bold predictions:
Compound Income Portfolio
Which leads me onto the Compound Income Portfolio (CIP) based on the Scores, which as discussed last month is throwing caution to the wind despite the above discussion and continuing to invest through this bear market to see how that compares with the Market timing signal. So far one month into the experiment it is 1-0 to time in the market versus timing the market, but this is likely to be a marathon rather than a sprint and an easy win for market timing if the alarming post above is to be believed. As ever time will tell on that I guess.
So after March's record fall of 22.2% the CIP saw a record monthly rise or total return of 13.5% versus the 4.9% from the FTSE All Share. This meant that it had clawed its way back ahead of the FTSE All Share Year to date by 4.5%, but that just means it has produced fewer losses with -17% versus -21.5%. Since inception just over five years ago the CIP is now up 68.1% versus 7% from the FTSE All Share or 10.8% per annum versus 1.3%, which is nice. If you would like to see the full history of that in table form then click here or you can see a graph of that below.
Much of this months performance was accounted for by the unwinding of the under performance by Mid and Small Cap names, where the portfolio is overweight versus large cap names and which had driven the fall in the previous month. In addition 3 of the 4 purchases last month did pretty well with two up by over 30% and another up by over 10%. As I mentioned on the Blog during the month one of these was Jarvis (JIM) which has since reassured and then put out a trading ahead of expectations update - which I had manged to predict. So I'd say it is definitely worth focusing on individual names and see if you can see how they might come through this OK and try and avoid those that might not rather than getting too hung up on market level.
Against that 2 of the 3 sales I undertook last month didn't do much but one, Games Workshop (GAW) also went up by more than 30%. So you win some you lose some I guess. This was however on the basis that they were going to start selling on line again and despite some hefty downgrades which has now left it on over 30x earnings so I'm not sure I'd be buying that up here myself now. I maybe worried too much about the operational gearing on the down side. i also just wondered if all their customers would have as much disposable income to spend on their hobby and may even think more about spending their time on more important things like family and friends after all this perhaps? Any way fair play though to those that have held on, may you escape all your Dungeons and slay all your Dragons or whatever the hell it is that their games are all about?
Aside from that, as suggested last month, I did make one switch intra-month where one stock Ramsdens (RFX) had, I felt, recovered far enough and with downgrades it was now on a rather high 20x versus a more normal 10x maximum or so and it is still not operating. Now while Pawn Broking & gold trading might boom on the back of all this I felt that the FX business, which accounts for 40% of their profits, might be missing in action for longer through all this as it seem likely that foreign holidays and air travel may be slow to return, but I could be wrong as it went up another 13% since I sold it!
To replace that I bought a more defensive counter in the food manufacturing sector that came up with a good Score and which was in the main (80%) still trading. This was Finsbury Foods (FIF), which hasn't done much yet since, so maybe I shouldn't bother with the intra month trading? Nevertheless it looks pretty good value to me on around 6x their likely earnings this year (June year end), although they too have withdrawn their profits guidance and latest dividend for now. I would however expect them to pay some kind of final and they should mostly be back up and running in their next financial year. It also looks pretty well invested and as a result does carry some debt, but they have confirmed that they have enough financial flexibility as things stand so shouldn't need to issue shares etc. Now it is not the highest quality operation but as I say it should be fairly defensive (bread and cakes to food retailers 80% and 20% food service) and as such I could see it re-rating back towards its more normal 10x or so and therefore I'd look for it to recover towards 80p to 100p levels from where it has come recently for a potentially decent return of 33 to 66%, although again I could be wrong.
In terms of the Monthly Screening a couple of semi-operative retailers came up as natural sales. One had not been as defensive as I'd hoped (although I didn't expect retailers to get shut down) and although it's not the highest quality, it is at least very financially robust so I was in two minds, but nevertheless let it go given the uncertainty surrounding when and how retailing might return. The other one had recovered more and is more exposed indirectly to housing activity and is more discretionary in nature in terms of the spend. So given the portfolio has a few names that are either directly or indirectly exposed to housing demand, which I think may well be weak going forward - I sold that one too.
Against those I purchased a couple of Companies in different industries that are still operating and which are in the main not that badly affected by the Global Virus Crisis. Any way subscribers to the Scores will be able to see the detail of these and all the other transactions in their Scores sheets and be able to follow the success or otherwise of these. If you would like to join them for less than the price of a cup of coffee per week then click here to find out and sign up for access if that is of any interest to you.
Summary & Conclusion
Well we are certainly living through unprecedented times as everyone keeps saying. As a result we have seen unprecedented falls and rises in share prices in the last two months and May has already started with a down draught. Thus I won't be getting carried away with the bounce back in the market or the CI Portfolio this month. This is because based on my experience and prior bear markets we are probably in or have just gone through the reflexive rebound rally stage. We may already be in or may soon enter the drawn out fundamental downturn stage.
The market timing indicators that I follow also suggest that it is too early to turn bullish too. While an article about some algorithms is also suggesting another down leg starting about now and being done potentially in double quick time again, which would at least tie in with the first two phases of the Global Virus Crash (GVC) a term I'm looking to coin after the GFC last time. Beyond that, if it comes to pass, we might then get a longer drawn out bottoming & recovery phase which could also include some sharp rallies along the way. One other depressing thing that has occurred to me is that west seems to be following Japan, but with about a 10 year delay, although I know this is not an original thought. So as the Japanese market is still below its bubble highs after 30 years, it is depressing to think that on that basis the FTSE might still be below 7,000 in another 10 years time.
Having said all that there are always opportunities for stock picking even in a bear market or sideways trading pattern, you just need to be active and nimble to take advantage of them, although I'm doubtful of any ones ability to perfectly time the market but I'm sure there are some exceptions out there who can claim to disprove that. Consequently I'm keeping the CI Portfolio pretty much fully invested throughout while trying to pick my way through the fall out from the GVC by trying to gravitate towards stocks that might benefit from it like Jarvis (JIM) last month and one of this months purchases.
Consequently it will hopefully be interesting to see how this plays out against the on going bear market and whenever the timing indicators / economic indicators suggest that it is safe to go back in the market. As I like to say, I guess time will tell on that. Talking of which thank you for taking the time to get this far and if you have as a reward or punishment (depending on your view of my musical taste) I'll leave you this month with a few more music tracks. Take care, stay safe and take your time in investing your cash I'd say if you have any to invest and good luck when you do!
Here is a quick update on the trades that resulted from the latest monthly screening on the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP) which is based off of the Compound Income Scores. For a reminder this generally tries to pick new holdings from the top Decile & hold positions which at least rank in the top quartile.
Thus the sale candidates which came up as a result of their scores dropping below 75 were: Miton Group (MGR), Ferguson (FERG) and Hays (HAS). Of these Miton Group was the closest call as it had a score of 72 on the back of a low quality score form their variable margins & low ROCE in recent years plus, somewhat surprisingly some recent downgrades. it had however re-rated since it was bought at the turn of the year and provided a total return of 57.4% for the portfolio, including the annual dividend. As the CISP has two fund managers with the other holding in this sector being Jupiter Fund Management which looks cheaper and scores better than Miton (despite having seen bigger downgrades) so I decided to let Miton be sold, although overall it is probably still OK if you wanted to run with it yourself.
Ferguson's score had also slipped due to downgrades and middling quality and reduced value after a 20%+ rise in the price since it was purchased so that went too. Hays was similar although in this case, although the Score was well below the cut off I was tempted to keep it as the score mostly seemed to have deteriorated on not much news and they have a trading update coming up. But given that and the fact that chart seems to be in the middle I guess that could go either way when they update so again I let this one go through.
The replacement candidates that came up again included Plus500 which I have avoided putting in the fund due to my own reservations to detriment of the fund. If I had allowed it when it first came up it would now be showing a 50%+ gain. I see this week they have delivered another positive profits warning although on this occasion the price has not really responded. So maybe the market has caught up to this one now?
So that aside I did plump to put some Ramsdens Group (RFX) into the fund to replace Miton Group. This brings foreign currency (travel money), jewellery retailing, Pawn broking and a bit of a roll out story to the portfolio and might provide some defensive aspects if things do cut up rough given their exposure to the gold price and more demand for the pawn if the economy should go into reverse. It also looks quite cheap on less than 10x with a 4%+ yield and as a bonus was looking oversold thanks to some badly handled / communicated directors sales last week. I was probably biased in favour of this one though as I bought some myself recently too, but in my defence I note Stockopedia rates it as a Super Stock.
Next in was Qinetiq (QQ.) which describes itself as a leading science and engineering company operating primarily in the defence, security and aerospace markets (click their name & the other two to visit the investor relations websites if you want to learn more about them and research them further). It seems a pretty good quality play with improving fundamentals, although it is not the cheapest stock in the market, but nevertheless it brings something different to the portfolio and Scores well with a CIS of 97 so in it goes. Again I probably have a bias here, but in favour of this one as I bought it myself earlier in the year in the low 200's, although again this is a Super Stock according to Stockopedia.
Finally for a bit more defensive stodge I reluctantly allowed Wynnstay (WYN) to re-enter the portfolio, despite its previous low return appearance. It seems to be recovering from a difficult patch and has seen upgrades after their interim results and Stockopedia have it down as a Super Stock too so who am I to argue. If it can return to its previous highs from last year, then it could at least provide a 20%+ return this time around which might be more exciting, but I wouldn't hold your breathe as this seems like a boring dependable stock, albeit low quality with low stable margins of around 2%, which has been around as a business for 100 years, but sometimes boring is good! I note it is a bit over bought in the short term, so if you are tempted you might get a better entry point if you are patient or not as the case may be. Personally I struggle to get excited about this one with its low margins, but for the record Stockopedia seems to think this one is a Super Stock too - so appropriately given what it does, their Stock Rank system is er... bullish on this one!
Click a chart any chart below to bring up a larger view and you can then scroll right through them.
Just a quick update to the recent post on Alliance Pharma (APH) about the welcome news of their anti emetic drug being approvable. At the time I thought it might be positive for earnings but not until next year and since I wrote that I saw reference to a broker saying it could be worth 10 to 15p onto the share price.
Since then the shares have moved up from the 90p they were at the time to around 100p having gone xd the final dividend of 0.888p on Thursday this week. Having seen the shares double in under a year I think the re-rating has probably nearly run far enough as it is now trading on around 20x December 2019 earnings, although of course given the above these may at some point be upgraded if the launch goes well. The yield is also now well below my usual 2% threshold too at 1.5%.
Thus following my valuation discipline and ignoring all the suggestions of running your winners, I have reduced my own holdings this week post the XD for risk control and to rotate into a better value higher scoring stock. I note that the current CI Score would also mean it being sold for the CISP if it were being screened this week.
In addition on the chart the shares are overbought (although they could of course still get more overbought) and there is negative divergence on the RSI which normally pressages a correction. They are also very extended above their moving averages and have had a very large one month return. It is also well known that there is a tendency for mean reversion of big one month moves which is why price momentum indicators (including the one available in the CI Scores) tend to be based off of 12 month - 1 month performance to correct for this effect. I also note the gap on the chart at 90p and I have noted in the past that these usually tend to get filled if you are patient. So I'll set myself an alert to perhaps revisit it as and when or if it should get back down there at some point.
Finally in case you are wondering I started a holding in Ramsdens Group (RFX) with the proceeds which is a high street currency provider, pawn broker and jewellery retailer. This is on around 11x with a 3.5%+ growing yield & a clean balance sheet and scores very well on the CI Scores and the Stockopedia Stock Ranks too. I do note however that recent support is closer to 180p and there's also a gap on the chart here at about 145p which might be a more interesting longer term entry point if you are patient and of course depending on how the shares have come to get back there if they should.