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?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Put the phone down on the coldcallers who see pension liberation as an opportunity to liberate your pension from you

Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers

Sean O'Grady offers advice on keeping your money safe
Switching to a better bank account is much easier than it used to be

More people are switching current accounts – but what do the figures mean?

Experts disagree about the 7% increase over the past year

The chance of getting what appears to be free money can be hugely attractive, especially to first-time buyers who can be fooled into thinking it’s extra cash to buy the essential new items they need for their dream home.

Beware the boom in cashback mortgage deals

Too many mortgages are being sold with misleading gimmicks

The firm’s revenues slumped by a third to £217 million in a disastrous 2014

Wonga results could get even worse this year, chief admits

The firm’s revenues slumped by a third to £217 million in 2014

The cost of a buildings policy has dropped by 10.1 per cent over the year, with the cost of a contents policy falling by 8.2 per cent

Simon Read: Mild winter cuts the cost of home insurance

The average quote for a buildings and contents policy has fallen by 3.6 per cent

Don't count your retirement money yet: employers will stop receiving a pension rebate next year and their staff may lose out

Defined-benefit pension schemes: Rebate change in 2016 may leave you out of pocket

Employees in defined-benefit schemes are held up as the lucky ones, but the state pension scheme will be overhauled in April 2016
Labour will raise the national minimum wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019 (EPA)

Barclays new Blue Rewards hands cash to customers. What’s the catch?

Joining Barclays Blue Rewards costs £3 a month but then lets customers in for handouts of up to £15 a month

New research reveals that despite the recovering economy, four out of five low-income households have seen no sign of their financial situation improving

Hard-up families could be eligible for financial help

A charity is urging anyone struggling financially to see if they could get help from the state

When is the best time to buy foreign currency?

Video: With an election looming, a hung parliament could hit sterling

General Election 2015: Vote for the party that will boost your finances

Experts warn that the general election is unlikely to lead to stable markets. Simon Read talks to two investment managers who are advising caution

Make the most of your money in 2015-16: The end of the tax year is the beginning of the next...

The new tax year brings with it a raft of new rules and regulations

General Election 2015: Will pension reform be a major factor?

Video: Tom McPhail, head of pensions at Hargreaves Lansdown, says May's outcome could alter your pension

General election 2015: David Cameron's promise brings uncertainty to investors

Video: Simon Read talks to Fidelity's Tom Stevenson

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions