Derek Pain: Booker and Whitbread power my portfolio to heady heights

The No Pain No Gain portfolio is edging closer to its all-time peak, achieved just ahead of the financial crisis that devastated so many shares, particularly small caps where it is heavily involved.

My quarterly calculation produced a profit of just over £139,000, some £10,000 short of its best level. But for Monday's slump, the figure would have been higher. The gain works out at an average of more than £9,000 a year, a reasonable out-turn, particularly as my little collection of shares was allowed to evolve rather than adopt the "big bang" approach.

The past three-month performance has been helped, once again, by star constituents: Booker, the cash and carry chain; and Whitbread leisure group. Mears, the support services group, has repaid my faith by topping the 500p mark and little tenpin bowler Essenden has soared from a lowly 28.5p (showing a modest 4.5p a share profit at the last count) to 66p.

The portfolio is a long-term investor. It does not fancy jumping in and out of shares – an approach that enriches the City but often leaves the small-time investor sadly out of pocket. I must confess that I nursed thoughts of dumping Mears and even briefly toyed with the idea of relegating Essenden. Of course, I am glad I ignored such temptations.

But not everything in my garden is lovely. I have three loss-makers. SnackTime, the vending group, is down to 10.75p after Russian-backed take-over talks were terminated. The group is now moving to merge its three vending operations and could sell its Drinkmaster subsidiary, which produces sealed cups.

As I have said in the past, the deficit on the SnackTime involvement is now so large that it is no longer worth selling for the pittance the shares would fetch. I had hoped the take-over approach would secure a not too humiliating exit, but it was not to be.

Another casualty, environment group TEG, has lost more ground and may well suffer the chop. Animalcare, the veterinary products business, has announced solid interim figures with pre-tax profit up 3.5 per cent at £1.4m and an unchanged dividend of 1.5p a share. Stockbroker Panmure Gordon is enthusiastic, producing a 245p target price and declaring Animalcare is a "dividend-paying cash flow generative business offering defensive growth". Unfortunately, the shares have stubbornly refused to get anywhere near 245p, a level promoted for some time. Whitbread enhanced its position in the portfolio with a 14 per cent sales rise in a 50-week period; but Avation, an aircraft leaser, flew in with profits that were a below expectations.

Andy Harrison, Whitbread's chief executive, reported the leisure group was moving ahead on its three fronts – Premier Inn, the budget hotel chain, managed sales growth of 13.3 per cent; Costa Coffee was up 20.1 per cent; and even the pub/restaurants achieved a 3.7 per cent advance.

Avation's interim profits came out at $7.9m (£4.7m) against $6.9m. Revenue was up 21 per cent at $24.6m. The shares, above 150p a little while ago, are 120.5p. The company has fixed up a couple of refinancing deals that should help future returns.

As readers will know, I have become a little deflated over Brightside, the insurance group. New chief executive Paul Williams has arrived and hopes to fix up more partnership arrangements. The shares have recovered to just above my buying level. When take-over talk began last year the price moved above the rumoured take-out price of 27p. It has since been down to the 16p mark as bid talks faltered and were called off. Still, the would-be bidder remains a significant shareholder.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

    £13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

    Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

    £25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

    Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

    £30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral