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
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
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

Have you won one of the £1m Premium Bonds' jackpots?

Video: The Independent's Personal Finance Editor runs you through the key facts about Premium Bonds

Give me the money: but not all providers are ready for transfers to Junior Isas

Parents will be able to switch dormant child trust funds to more competitive Junior Isa

Millions of dormant junior savings accounts were yesterday given the go-ahead to swap to better deals as the Government agreed to allow switching. Samantha Downes reports
Hard labour: a woman bears the load in a factory. But equal treatment is causing pension problems

Women to lose benefits from contracted-out pension scheme

Workers were promised that the state would pay inflation increases on parts of their pensions. But now the DWP disagrees
The Budget, says one critic, should have done more to encourage construction of affordable homes

Help for buyers but where are the homes?

A vote-winning Budget promised less tax, greater savings flexibility, and government handouts for first-time housebuyers
  • 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

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

    £50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

    £13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

    Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own