Derek Pain: It's goodbye to Animalcare - with a watching brief on Findel

 

The No Pain, No Gain portfolio remains in the black, but the number of losers has increased in recent months. For a long time three of the 15 constituents were stuck in the red, but nowadays I have to contend with at least four culprits in deficit and another hovering uncomfortably on the fringe.

My recalcitrant shares, which were all in profit at one time, are power provider Alkane Energy; veterinary products group Animalcare; vending machine business SnackTime; and environmental specialist TEG.

Lloyds Banking is flitting below and above the portfolio's buying level. It would be wise, I believe, to unload one of my five and use the resultant cash for reinvestment.

I have explained the reasons the portfolio intends to stick with Alkane for the time being and TEG is, as I have indicated, in the last chance saloon. SnackTime should have been sold a long time ago but I failed to take action and with the shares around 13p it is now too late.

That leaves Lloyds and Animalcare. The bank was only acquired a year ago and the portfolio likes to take a longer view. In addition it seems the shares are suffering from short-term hiccups and could eventually go higher, despite Scotland's breakaway threat.

On the other hand, the veterinary business has endured a portfolio presence for nearly three years and although the company is making progress and pays dividends, it could be some years before planned changes significantly influence profits. So the shares are unlikely to progress for some time.

I have on a number of occasions said I intended to dump Animalcare and I am now executing my threat. The shares were acquired at 171p; the price is, as I write, 144p.

I have some regrets at giving up on the shares. The group is in a lucrative business and is busy recharging its portfolio. Operating profits for the year to the end of June are likely to come out at £2.6m with revenue up 6.3 per cent.

Still, the group seems unlikely to achieve the pre-tax profits that it hit in 2010. The last figure was £2.33m. The removal of Animalcare, together with the departure of Brightside, means the portfolio's strength is down to "unlucky" 13. As I am a superstitious old soul, I will endeavour to quickly recruit at least one newcomer.

The takeover of Brightside by private equity group AnaCap has been completed and the cash received. The portfolio acquired the shares in the summer of 2012 at 18.5p; the offer was 25p. Last year the insurance broker was nearly captured with, it is said, at least 27p initially on the table. But the bid was reduced to a rejected 20p/22p when Brightside encountered trading difficulties. There is also the chance I could sack one of the existing constituents. Findel, the home shopping group, is causing some concern. The shares, having topped 320p, are now 242.75p.

The portfolio is still making money but it is disconcerting when a share sacrifices so much ground.

Booker, the cash and carry chain, is another stock that has lost much of its momentum.

However, it is now making hesitant progress and I am in no hurry to oust Findel. It is not unusual for high-flying shares to suffer an unjustified retreat, often the result of profit taking by those who acquired the stock at much lower prices.

Still, I will have to keep a close eye on Findel, as there is a faint hint that it could be running out of steam.

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