With it being the first week of the new month and a New Year in this case I undertook the monthly re-screening of the portfolio having not done any trades on the back of the one in December given the likely thin market conditions and some marginal sales that came up at that time. There were however two natural sales this month, the first of which was the insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thomson (JTL) which had only entered the portfolio at the end of October on the back of some upgrades. This time around the score had deteriorated to 69 as the previous upgrades seemed to have been reversed. This was now well below the 75 to 80 sale threshold that I normally use, having been just around it in December. Thus it was a natural sale on the process and therefore booked a small profit of around 6% on this as the share price had risen despite the downgrades. Personally I felt indifferent about it too as it is on close to 20x with a 2.6% yield and only had fairly modest dividend growth forecasts of 5.3% in the current year.
This was replaced with another financial in the shape of Miton Group (MGR) the small (£64m Market Cap.) fund management company, although the emerging market specialist City of London Group (CLIG) ran it a close second as it seems pretty stable, good value and emerging markets still seem relatively cheap. I did also debate this with myself as the portfolio already has a fund manager and a broking company, but hey we are in a bull market and global economies seem set fair so I let it go in as the highest scoring qualifying candidate after applying my value constraints. The other attraction with Miton, in contrast to JLT, was that it had already said they were going to beat forecasts and had upgrades accordingly. Despite this and a rise in the price post the announcement it seems to have drifted back since (on profit taking presumably), so it also seemed to be offering an attractive entry point. It also offers reasonable valuation characteristics of a PE under 12x and a yield of close to 4% based on next years (December 2018) forecasts which suggest dividend growth of 27% after this years forecast 10%. That does seem like quite a jump so maybe this years dividend could be better than expected as analysts often upgrade earnings but fail to adjust their dividend forecasts, plus they have a cash rich balance sheet too. Finally also worth noting that they only seem to pay the dividend once a year in May with an XD in March - so another reason why this may be an opportune moment to pick some up. However, given the small market cap. it may not be that liquid, but in the interests of full disclosure I have managed to buy some myself having booked a decent trading profit on some Polar Capital (POLR) that I picked up towards the end of last year after they had strong upgrades.
The second natural sale based on a decline in its score, also primarily on downgrades, was the expensive, quality, defensive(?) stock Diageo (DGE) where the score had fallen to 73 making it much more of a marginal call. The valuation is looking stretched though as the share price momentum it has displayed has left it with a PE of 22.2x, a yield of 2.55% and an earnings yield of less than 5%. So I decided to follow the process rather than my own feelings as personally I continue to hold it as part of a broader diversified income portfolio.
A couple of similar or defensive type stocks which came up as possible replacements were Stock Spirits (STCK) and AB Foods (ABF). Neither of these seemed particularly cheap either so in the end I replaced it with a much cheaper, but more cyclical company which scores highly. This was the equipment rental firm VP which trades on a sub 10x PE with a yield of 3.2% with dividend growth forecast to be 15% and a good track record on that front too. It had also seen upgrades recently on the back of an upbeat trading statement, although the shares had also drifted back a bit recently too. It does feel a bit like I'm coming late to this particular party, but then that's what following a quantitative process does, makes you take what feel like uncomfortable decisions. In this case I can probably rationalize it given the valuation and the strongish economic background generally.
Other candidates in a similar space were Ashtead (AHT), dismissed because it yielded under 2% and Somero (SOM) which was sold back in August for the portfolio, but which I picked up myself toward the end of last year. It looks pretty solid (pun intended) assuming they can deliver the promised second half recovery from poor weather related trading in H1. It didn't score as well as or look such good value as VP on a PE and yield basis, although it does offer a more attractive looking earnings yield, but personally I can see the attractions and they could also be a beneficiary of the recently proposed US tax changes.
So there ends the update on the trades & other ideas from the Compound Income Scores Portfolio monthly screening and don't forget if you would like to identify more opportunities like these yourself by using the Compound Income Scores as part of your investment research process too, then you can read more about them and gain access to them for the equivalent of just £1 a week by clicking here or on the Scores menu in the navigation menu toward the top of the site or the three bars if you are on a mobile / tablet. Here's to a Happy and Prosperous New Year.