Derek Pain: It's time to ditch a doleful duo in favour of a caffeine hit

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I intend to drop from the no pain, no gain portfolio two of my more disappointing investments – Alkane Energy and Stock Spirits – if their respective shares go much lower.

Both have been in ragged retreat following poor trading statements. I had hoped that, after initial setbacks, they would rally or at least settle down at the more subdued levels. But what I regard as my doleful duo has continued to give ground.

So Alkane will be relegated if it goes below 20p; Stock will be dumped once the price falls lower than 180p. As I write, Alkane, recruited at 40.75p and once above 50p, is down to 21.875p; Stock, which arrived at 278.5p and then topped 310p, is 197.75p.

I am aware that both have friends in the City. I have already mentioned that stockbroker Liberum has a buy recommendation on Alkane and I see that another broker, VSA, predicts that the power group's adjusted pre-tax profits could reach £5.5m this year compared with the disappointing £3.25m to £3.5m the group indicated for last year. It, too, advocates buying and has a 49p target.

There is no doubt the stock market has treated the pair harshly. The shares could eventually prove winners, but I feel that, although the portfolio is a long-term investor, it should reinvest the funds involved in case they continue to deteriorate.

Such admissions of failure are particularly hard to endure as the portfolio celebrates its 16th birthday this month. Of course, over the years there have been quite a few losers but successes have come along frequently and the portfolio remains well in profit. During its existence it has had to contend with the madcap internet explosion; the stock market retreats following the terror attack in New York and the Iraq invasion as well as the deep-rooted financial crisis that erupted in 2008 and threatened to demoralised the stock market.

Assuming Alkane and Stock are given the old heave-ho, the portfolio's ranks will be reduced to their lowest since the early days when I was busy accumulating, eventually lifting membership to 16.

Clearly, additions are needed. After some heart-searching, I have descended on Patisserie Holdings, the café and casual dining chain. I first looked at the shares, then at 218p, late last year. But a subsequent advance left me feeling the price had got out of reach and I had once again failed to appreciate the coffee. Second thoughts have prevailed. Although the shares are around their peak and enjoy a rich, bordering on exotic rating, I have splashed out £5,000 from the kitty, buying shares at 285.75p.

The group, mainly known for its Patisserie Valerie branches but with four other brands, arrived on the stock market last May at 170p a pop. Obviously highly ambitious, it sees plenty of opportunities and plans more outlets and could make acquisitions in the still fragmented areas in which it operates.

Although the portfolio is not enraptured by dividend payments, Patisserie has indicated it will launch a maiden payment with this year's figures and there is little doubt that joining the dividend list will help the share price.

I have dismissed Utilitywise as a possible recruit as the shares have wilted quite considerably since I first mentioned them. However I have not given up on Distil and Peel Hotels. I also have some intriguing newcomers under consideration.


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