In the last monthly update I highlighted four positions that had flagged up as potential sales based on their Scores. Nevertheless I decided to hold onto them all based on awaiting forthcoming news flow on three of them and on the basis that nothing had really changed on the other.
We have had news flow on two of those so here is a brief update on that:
S & U (SUS) had a trading update rather than results that I had expected, although those will be published on 28th September. The update was positive in the main with all the right metrics like profitability, collections and debt quality all moving in the right direction. Within that Advantage, the main car finance business, was likely to see profits ahead of budget and was seen as being on track to return to previous ROCE levels, despite a bit of a shortage of second had cars. While at Aspen the bridging loan business showed strong growth despite the limited supply of second hand properties too. On the back of this there have been 16% or so upgrades to this years forecasts which has catapulted the Score back into the top decile again.
Paypoint (PAY) - where I hadn't expected any news put out an update on their outstanding OFGEM investigation. In this it seems that OFGEM are minded to accept Paypoint's suggested remedies and payment of compensation that they have already largely provided for. The price seems to have responded positively to this news rising by about 7% since then and a couple of directors have since purchased some shares. So again so profitable masterly inactivity there although slightly more fortuitous is this case.
On Strix Group (KETL) - while there has been no news as such the shares continued to steam ahead another 5% or so on the back of a bullish initiation by Liberum in which they suggested substantial upside on a further re-rating on the increasing growth prospects here apparently.
Finally, even dull old EMIS has managed to move up about 4% while we await their results in September. So here's to the success of masterly inactivity and long may it continue!
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!
Compound Income Scores Portfolio Performance
So more blue in evidence on investors screens this month as UK equities continued to rise and thereby provided total returns of +1.1% as measured by the FTSE All Share which I use as a benchmark for the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP). This did better than the market again this month with a +2.6% total return and thereby continued its winning streak against the index this year and over all periods since inception.
That actually makes it six month in a row since November last year, although I should probably point out that this is more clawing back a sharp underperformance that the portfolio saw in November 2020 on the back of the vaccine inspired rally when many financially challenged and low quality names led the way. Nevertheless it is good to see the portfolio now pulling further ahead having made up the underperformance seen in November as the market has perhaps focused more on fundamentals again and maybe started to question how great the re-opening benefits will be in some cases. If it is of interest you can see the full performance history here.
With practically a years worth of outperformance in the year to date, I decide to do some portfolio tidying in addition to the regular sells that were suggested by the Scores. This involved trimming back a couple of big winners that have been run successfully.
The first of these Sylvannia Platinum (SLP) has gone up 3.6 times since purchase in October 2019 and as such it has grown to become the largest holding in the portfolio and has been flirting with a 10% weighting in recent months. Thus I decided to reduce it on risk control grounds. Now call me a wimp, as I know some people like to run with massively concentrated portfolios, which is fine if you are comfortable with that, but that's not how I roll as I like to run with a broadly equally weighted portfolio of around 20 to 30 positions. As this one still looks cheap and continues to Score very well it has been maintained as the largest holding, just not 9 to 10% any more.
The second reduction of a still high Scoring stock was done on valuation grounds and involved Dot Digital (DOTD) which was bought in April 2020 based on its Score and as a SaaS business with 90% recurring revenue I felt it would be resilient to the Covid crisis & could even be a beneficiary. Since then it has gone up 1.5x and re-rated and I feel that the rating has got a bit rich for my tastes with a PE of > 50x seeming expensive for the single digit growth that is currently forecast. The yield is also now < 0.5% and the EBIT/EV yield is also looking rich too at 2%. On that basis and given the current trend for switching away from expensive tech / growth stocks and towards more cyclical recovery / growth plays I feel OK with going against the old adage of running your winners, although in this case I have retained a position as despite the valuation it still Scores in the top decile.
Aside from these there were two sales based on their Scores with Avast (AVST) also confirmed by the new treble momentum trends that I mentioned in my last post. The other one Mondi (MNDI) was suggested as a hold on those trends so I wouldn't put you off holding it if you do. It has however been coming up as a potential sale for a few months now and having given it the benefit of the doubt a couple of times I decided to let it go as part of this month more active trading round as it Scores pretty averagely across the piece.
The proceeds from all these sales gave sufficient fire power for three new positions which takes the number of holding up to 30 which is the upper end of my preferred range. The new positions did however all bring something different to the portfolio and help with the diversification which after all is the whole point of a more broadly based portfolio, but as I say each to their own if you want to do it differently.
Summary & Conclusion
Another positive month for UK equities and the CISP as the recovery rally which has continued to gather pace since the vaccine news in November last year shows no sign of flagging despite some concerns about inflationary pressures.
Given the out performance by the portfolio this year and the extent to which some winning holdings had moved I took the opportunity for some portfolio house keeping in terms of risk reduction and profit taking on valuation grounds in addition to the normal sales thrown up by the monthly screening process (see above for more details). This leaves the portfolio with decent exposure to the factors underpinning the Compound Income Scores and it still looks to be offering a decent mix of value and growth with the overall PE being 16x with a 3.6% yield for the current year based on forecast dividend growth of 11% which excluding any rating change tends to suggest that the portfolio could still deliver close to its compound return since inception of around 15% per annum. So I'm happy with that and the progress shown by the portfolio in the year to date and indeed since inception.
Subscribers will be able to see details of all the new purchases and the resultant make up of the portfolio on their sheets, together with the new triple momentum trend suggestions for Buys, Holds, Avoids and Sells for every stock in the Scores. I hope this might help you with your decision making process when using the scores by tapping into the power of momentum too.
Aside from that on a personal & musical note it was a welcome change to see some blue sky outside in addition to the blue on the portfolio. Hopefully we are through the worst of the Covid crisis now and can look forward to finally enjoying some fun in the Summertime. While I probably won't be enjoying a Dreadlock Holiday any time soon it is good to see some cricket back on TV as I don't like cricket, I love it. Whatever you are up to this summer, assuming we are allowed out, take care and may the sun continue to shine on you and your portfolio.
Compound income Scores Portfolio Performance
April proved to be another positive month for the UK stock market and also the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP) which continued it out performing streak again this month with a total return of 7.53% versus the 4.29% from the FTSE All share. This leaves the portfolio with a total return of 18.18% , 8.5% ahead of the index in the year to date.
As you can see in the table above the current / on going bull market in pretty much everything has helped the CISP to produce positive returns and be in the blue over every period shown & it has outperformed in all the periods shown too. Indeed after we saw a Pink moon last month seeing something like that in performance numbers is probably as rare as a blue moon. Since inception the CISP has now beaten the return from the FTSE All Share by over 100% and has delivered annualized returns of around 15% versus the 5% per annum from the index for 10% per annum outperformance. Not bad for a low stress once a month screened portfolio I'd say.
It is quite pleasing to see such a positive outcome / picture I'm not getting carried away with the success as pride often comes before a fall. In a bull market like this it is important to keep your feet on the ground as it is easy to get carried away and think you are an investing genius as the rising tide lifts all boats. Having said that though I'm pretty happy that the Compound Income Scores are a good way of identifying potentially interesting quality, income growth stocks which have the potential to outperform the market.
There were 3 potential candidates considered for sale based on their Scores with a couple of these having been considered and given the benefit of the doubt in the past. In the end I decided to just sell the one, Sage (SGE), that had fallen out of the top quartile of Scores, as it had recovered in price a little since I gave it the benefit of the doubt, but it has continued to see some earnings downgrades. While the valuation doesn't look that attractive with the PE of over 25x albeit with a yield of 2.8% but this is not that well covered. They have results due later this month so it remains to be seen if that was the right call or if I should have continued to hold while they struggle to grow as they transition to more of a cloud based subscription model.
To replace that there were 3 candidates that I considered from the top decile of the Scores. Firstly was Morgan Sindall (MGNS) which I could have / should have bought last month based on a similar score, but dismissed it given it is a low margin contractor and therefore has a lower than average quality score in the Scores. So I skipped buying it again this month after a strong performance last month post their positive trading update left it looking it over bought from where it might be vulnerable to some mean reversion in the short term.
The second candidate I seriously considered but passed on in the end was Kingfisher( KGF). Again perhaps I'll live to regret skipping it as they are trading well, have good momentum and continue to see upgrades as they benefit from the lock down buying as householders look to do up their homes and gardens as a result. As ever with such stocks the question is over the sustainability of that trend, although in this case they have some help measures in progress and the currently active housing market should also be good for their business. It trades on around 14x with a similar yield to that of Sage at 2.8% but again like Morgan Sindall it scores below average on quality given their relative low margins and return on capital employed. So on that basis I decided to pass on that opportunity too.
So the one I decided to add in the end was a higher quality stock (based on its operating metrics) Paypoint (PAY) which has been in the portfolio in the past but was sold based on its Score back in November 2016 at 1075p. It is struggling with a similar transition phase to Sage as they migrate their business away from serving cash customers and towards more card based, on line payments and a parcel delivery & collection network . Again this was a slightly tricky decision as it has quite poor price momentum and has seen fairly steady downgrades, although these may have just stopped in the last month. They also have results this month so it will be interesting to see how those come out, but last time they spoke on trading they implied they were pretty confident of hitting their numbers.
The valuation though was much better value than Sage with a PE of under 12x for March 2022 year end and a yield approaching 6% on the rebased dividend although again that is also not that well covered. They also offer a double digit EBIT / EV yield more than twice that of Sage. Thus the quality and value scores are both in the top decile as is the overall Score and it is looking oversold on the overbought / oversold indicator which is also included in the Scores data.
So on that basis I took the decision to add it to the portfolio as it plays into the current expensive growth into value trend that seems to be underway and both the businesses seem to be struggling with transitioning their business which both have some good quality metrics. The difference is that Paypoint is rated much lower and closer to a no growth type of rating and arguably maybe has less competition to its payment network in convenience stores than Sage has in its accounting software area.
Other things to note are that they have recently completed the sale of their Romanian business and are now UK focussed and are bedding in some recent card payment acquisitions. They may also have to pay a regulatory fine as part of an on going investigation which probably adds to the low rating / out of favour nature of the stock - so definitely a bit of a contrarian value idea too on that basis. I was also reasonably impressed by the names on the largest holders list shown below, although the one at the top, Astericos Group, who have 15% was not one I am familiar with. On checking though it seems they are absolute return investors with a value / quality approach which chimes with the Scores.
Summary & Conclusion
Another positive month for UK equities and also the Compound Income Scores portfolio which continued the outperforming streak it has been on this year and indeed over the last 1, 3, 5 years and since inception too. However, in a bull market such as this it pays not to get too carried away and indeed such a positive performance it probably as rare as a blue moon but the Scores do seem to be a good way of identifying suitable candidates for a successful quality, income growth portfolio.
As for the screening, while the Scores can direct one, you still need to implement decisions based on them which as ever may add or detract from performance but then that is always the case in any event. This month it was Sage into Paypoint rather than Kingfisher or Morgan Sindall but as ever time will tell on the success or otherwise of that.
Any way I'll leave it there as this has already taken me a while and having mentioned blue moons I'll leave you with some music this month based on that. It's a tricky decision so I'll put up three versions and leave you to decide which one you prefer. Personally, I prefer the one by the Marcels that featured in one of my favourite horror films - An American Werewolf in London.
March was another positive month for equity markets generally including the UK. As a result the FTSE All Share Index, which I use as a benchmark for the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP), produced a total return of +4%. By comparison the CISP had another good month and delivered a third straight month of out performance in Q1 with a total return of +4.9%. This leaves it with a total return for the year to date of +9.9% which is 4.7% ahead of the +5.2% return from the FTSE All Share.
Over the 12 months since the Corona Virus hit the CISP has returned +48.3% versus +26.7% for the Index as the market recovered from its lows. So it is pleasing to be able to report that the Scores and the associated portfolio seem to have weathered the Covid storm and subsequent recovery successfully. This continues the decent run it has had over the last 5 years where it has practically doubled as it has managed to compound at around 14 to 15% per annum over the nearly six years since inception which compares to 4.4% per annum from the FTSE All Share over the same time frame, so about 10% per annum out performance.
This suggests that they are not a bad way for identifying attractive quality stocks with the potential to grow their dividends and your income and capital over time. You can see full details of the performance history in the Table of Returns drop down menu on the Portfolio tab in the site menu or just click the Table of returns link above if that is of interest to you. While if you would like to find out more about the Scores and how you can get access to them you can click the highlighted Scores link above or on the main menu and view a brief presentation about them here too if that is of interest.
This month there were five potential sale candidates based on where their Scores were. Of these two were repeat offenders with Scores well below my normal sale threshold (75% or top quartile CI Score) and the other three were more marginal being closer to the cut off line. So on balance and in the interests of avoiding costly / potentially unnecessary turnover I gave those the benefit of the doubt this month which subscribers will be able to read about in the Journal tab of their Scores sheets.
As for the two that were sold, the first was Unilever (ULVR) which I held last month as it appeared to be oversold. That proved to be a reasonable call as it outperformed the index by about 2% this month. While I pointed out last month that personally I wouldn’t put you off holding it for it’s longer term compounding potential, this portfolio’s process is to follow the Scores and try to maintain exposure to stocks scoring in the top quartile in the main – so on that basis I let it be sold this month after the bounce, as the the score remained well below that threshold at the month end. At least this seems to be in tune with the market where the song remains same. That is stocks over bonds, cyclicals over defensive stocks, value over growth and Small-caps over large – for now as the reflation / inflation trade continues to play out and resonate with investors.
The other sale was Qinetiq (QQ.) which has done quite well for the portfolio and has therefore seen its score come down as it has re-rated to leave it looking rather average overall. The portfolio also held another stock operating in similar markets and while they are likely to be reasonably steady growers, it doesn’t seem like a strong enough theme that I want to double up on the exposure, so out it goes. Results are due in a month or so and their pre-close update was reasonable so they may be worth looking out for if you decide to hold on to it yourself.
Against those Computacenter (CCC) was added as their trading has continued to be positive leading to numerous upgrades as they continue to benefit from the trend for businesses to increase spending on IT hardware and services, which was in place prior to the Virus and which was accelerated by it and which they seem to think should continue this year too. Thus it would seem that their improved performance should be sustained rather than sagging back like some other Covid beneficiaries. It is also one I have held personally for some time which made me more comfortable with adding it up here, hopefully that's not confirmation bias!
The other purchase to replace Unilever was in the General Insurance Sector, so a suitably boring replacement, although this one is also well managed but does offer a much greater yield and therefore a higher value score than Unilever, so again playing into one of the current themes that I mentioned earlier. Again subscribers will be able to see full details of that one and all the other trades in their sheets.
Summary & Conclusion
Another positive month to round off a positive quarter and 12 months for the market and the CISP. Who would have thought that would have been possible 12 months ago when Covid first struck? Nevertheless it is pleasing that the Scores seem to have helped to navigate these strange times successfully.
Meanwhile the current theme playing out in the market is to back the on going recovery / reflation and therefore potential inflation and higher bond yields / interest rates down the track. This has meant rotation from previous winners / beneficiaries of Covid / low rates and into losers from Covid plus value and recovery plays funded by sales of more expensive growth stocks which may suffer in valuation terms as growth becomes more plentiful and bond yields rise.
It remains to be seen how long this trend lasts, but for now both Central Banks and governments seem intent on pumping money out so it may well go on for longer than one might think and for now at least the trend is your friend as they say. The market does however seem to be getting a bit frothy with all these SPAC's in the US and quite a few IPO's being delivered to markets even if they were a bit cool on the Deliveroo offering in the UK. I note that the UK regulators are also trying to loosen the rules to allow more SPAC type listing over here so we don't miss out. I guess there is also a chance that the US Fed at some point may start with yield curve control to keep yields down and keep the recovery going, which would be bullish if it happens. Trying to call the top of the market is in any event a bit of a mugs game and as Keynes was quoted as saying: " Markets can remain irrational longer that you can stay solvent."
Having said that though the UK market does still appear to offer some value and still trades some way below previous highs unlike the US where ratings are higher and indices there are hitting new highs. You would also think that the UK market's larger exposure to Miners and banks etc. should also help it with the current rotation into more value laggards that is going on, but we'd still no doubt suffer if there was a US led sell off.
So for now for me the song remains the same and I'll carry on Compounding with attractive looking stocks identified by the Scores. I'll leave you to enjoy your Easter eggs or whatever outdoor excitement you might have planned for this Easter assuming it is not cancelled for you. Otherwise I hope that markets continue to be kind to you - rock on, ciao for now.