No Pain No Gain: SnackTime keeps eating into profits

 

Are we set for another share shopping spree in the run up to Christmas? For a variety of reasons the stock market invariably indulges in what many regard as a seasonal pantomime that sends prices surging ahead. Even after the festivities, the round of new year tips often adds a little momentum to what is usually a cheerful atmosphere.

In the past 30 years or so there have been only around half-a-dozen occasions when some form of Santa boom failed to materialise as investors felt buffeted by the then prevailing economic or political winds. I don’t expect the world’s present recession to have a negative impact this year.

Why should Christmas offer such investment joys? One obvious reason is the festive holiday itself. In the run-up, many top people are away from their desks, leaving what has been described as skeleton staffs minding the shops. And trading is often thin with much of it on the buy side.

But other factors come into play. Window dressing by fund managers chasing bonuses is one; another is that, with so many leading dealers away, the subordinates left in charge are much more likely to run with a cheerful herd.

Next week I plan to produce the quarterly update on the No Pain, No Gain portfolio. If we are to get a Christmas uplift it should then be stirring and that should help my calculations. Mind you, some recent trading figures from a quartet of constituents have caused some concern.

Marston’s, the brewer and pub owner, is excused any criticism. On the surface, yearly figures look horrendous but such an impression is down to the vagaries – not to say stupidities – of our accounting system. The group incurred a statutory loss of £223m, largely the result of a property revaluation. Yet revenue advanced 5.5 per cent, underlying pre-tax profits rose 9.2 per cent to £87.8m and dividends were lifted 5 per cent. Not surprisingly Marston’s shares, as I write, are at their highest for more than three years, helping the portfolio’s profits.

SnackTime, the vending machine group, is the one letting the side down. Half-year turnover fell 13 per cent and the pre-tax loss, inflated by exceptional charges, reached £1.6m against a modest profit last time. The group is busy reorganising and cost cutting. It hopes to reduce the loss “significantly” in the second six months. The shares, at 14p, capitalise the company at a mere £2.3m. The portfolio paid 119p a share. I am hanging on – hoping for a recovery. Anyway it is too late to dump the shares as the portfolio’s initial £5,000 outlay has already almost disappeared.

My hopes that Findel’s prospects are improving were confirmed by interim figures. The half-year loss was reduced and some sections of the business are clearly doing well although the Kleeneze door-to-door operation is feeling the pinch. Group sales are running 7.7 per cent ahead of last year. The shares have lost some of their exuberance at around 7.5p.

Shares of Aviation, the aircraft leasing group, have also given up some altitude. It has taken delivery of another new ATR 72 aircraft – its ninth – which is joining the group’s leased fleet. But profit expectations have been pulled back after the sale of a subsidiary that had an impact on the last set of profits which, at £5.2m, were much lower than expected. Stockbroker WH Ireland now expects a performance for the present year of £5.9m. For next year, the broker is looking for around £7.5m which is near the result some envisaged for the year just gone.

Elsewhere, TEG, the green-technology enterprise, has started ground work at its important £21m waste-disposal unit in Dagenham, East London. The plant is expected to be operational in early 2014. The group’s shares hover a little below 5p against an 8p buying price. TEG will run the venture in which it has a 24.5 per cent stake.

Finally, Whitbread leisure group, one of the portfolio’s Footsie stocks. Stockbroker Numis has upgraded the shares from hold to buy and lifted its target price to 2650p. The broker is impressed with the Costa Coffee offshoot and believes it will benefit from the adverse publicity and controversy surrounding the tax position of archrival Starbucks. The portfolio paid 1105p. Price is now around 2400p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Finacial products from our partners
Property search

Don't ignore the retirement warning - boost your pension

Nearly two-thirds of people aged over 45 haven't checked the performance of their pension, meaning around 10 million retirement savings schemes are at risk of underperforming

Swim against the tide: a country in the midst of a financial crisis, like Greece, may offer investment opportunities

History tells investors to keep their nerve when headlines scream 'crisis'

Swim against the tide: a country in the midst of a financial crisis, like Greece, may offer investment opportunities

Questions of Cash: 'I want a refund on my TV licence payments but they've turned my claim into a soap opera'

An Independent reader was told to send bank statements to prove payment

Santander's Kitti app aims to bring the good old cash kitty into the 21st century

The days of phoning round to chase up multiple contributions could well be a thing of the past

Once bitten? Research shows that, in 19 out of 20 cases, desperate people are introduced to loan sharks by relatives or friends

How to avoid loan sharks: The alternatives for people who need credit fast

Simon Read meets a woman who became trapped in a cycle of debt

Profiteering? British Gas customers hit again as energy giant fails to pass on profits hike

The company made £63 a second but is only passing on £37 a year cuts to customers

China's stock market has tanked in the last month, losing 30 per cent of its value

China's stock market crash, Greece crisis: how do they affect your finances?

Video: Tom Stevenson, investment director at Fidelity Worldwide Investments, says it’s good to be aware of what’s going on in the world

Payday lender Cash Genie forced to repay £20m to ripped-off customers

The high-cost credit company preyed on vulnerable people struggling because of the recession

Mark Carney warns that the decision is likely to come into 'sharper relief' by 'the turn of the year'

An interest rate rise may be on the way - act now to secure a better mortgage deal

Competition has driven rates down but they could start drifting upwards

Santander 123 is attractive for those seeking interest on credit balances

Switching your current account? Pick one that reflects the way you run your finances

Andrew Hagger has carried out some research to try to establish which accounts are strongest in each of the different areas

A reader hit trouble after booking accommodation in a St Andrews hostel for the Open

Questions of Cash: 'Golfing break landed in the bunker when the price on the booking site was way below par'

One reader encountered a problem when booking accommodation at the St Andrews Tourist Hostel through HostelBookers

The Money Shop this week became the latest payday lender to have an ad banned

Payday lenders slammed for 'misleading' claims: charities say they're still not doing enough to help borrowers

Debt charities say there seems scant evidence to back up CFA's latest report

The crooks, like these in the 1955 film The Ladykillers, are waiting in the shadows as people cash in their savings

Savers are embracing their pension freedom ... and so are the scammers

There have been fresh warnings that scammers are trying to trick people into using liberated cash to invest in dodgy schemes

Don't get burnt: holidaymakers should check their plastic

How to avoid costly debit or credit card charges on overseas trips

Taking the wrong plastic can be a costly mistake, leaving you paying over the odds for your holiday spending money to the tune of £68, maybe more

From as far back as the Seventies, women have been drawn to the tables, attracted by the sense of feeling like a celebrity

Gambling is on the rise - so is enough being done to combat problem betting?

More and more of the 'AB' classes are joining the vulnerable in playing the odds, as Neasa MacErlean reports
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

    £13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

    Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen