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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Sell it with flowers: competition is 'intense' for homes with outside spaces

Gardens add a tenth to the value of your home

A London estate agent yesterday put a price on having a garden. David Pollock of Greene & Co reckons it can increase a property's value by a tenth.

Spectators at the Isle of Wight music festival watch the World Cup on the big screen. Betting promotions were a feature of the tournament
Lenders have been accused of persuading vulnerable people to borrow expensive credit

Payday loan firms accused of bombarding vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls

Payday loan firms have been accused of bombarding financially vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls, after a debt charity reported that a third of its clients were plagued by the messages.

The foundation proposed that the Government sets up a scheme to help people avoid losing their homes

Mortgages: 'Homeowners could trade down to shared ownership to defuse rate rise timebomb'

A plan to defuse a “mortgage debt timebomb” when interest rates rise is published today amid warnings that 2.3m households could struggle with their repayments.

Current accounts are too costly and confusing, says CMA as it announces investigation into Britain's biggest banks

Competition regulator to investigate market where it's hard for customers to make comparisons and the big banks' charges can be set too high
All the signs have been pointing up for buy-to-let, but there are clouds on the horizon

Buy-to-let: is it a boom or a bubble fit to burst?

People borrowing to be landlords could face the same restrictions as homebuyers, with MPs voicing fears that property speculation may be overheating the market

Moment of truth for payday lenders: Watchdog plans to curb cost of short-term loans

The chief of the City watchdog, Martin Wheatley, spoke exclusively to The Independent's Simon Read about its attempts to control the worst excesses of unscrupulous high-cost credit companies

Consumers given power to choose a green deal

How would you like to be able to choose how your electricity is made and even where it come from? It may sound futuristic and fanciful but the independent supplier Co-operative Energy has made it a reality this week.

'Scrap the trap': calls for change grow as banks are told to play fair with loyal savers

City regulator says existing customers suffer worst rates

Motor insurers divided on proposals for whiplash ban

MPs want medical evidence for claims. Will this bring higher premiums?

British Gas repays £1m for mis-sold deals

British Gas was yesterday forced to pay back £1m to its customers after mis-selling them energy deals.

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

    Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

    £350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

    Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

    £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

    HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

    £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

    PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on