Derek Pain: Portfolio mourns for Pubs'n'Bars' last orders

No Pain, No Gain

The no pain, no gain portfolio has continued its recovery – but only just. The overall gain has edged ahead to nearly £98,000 from September's calculation of a little over £96,000.

I suppose any improvement – even an exceedingly modest one – is better than shipping punishment. But I had been nursing hopes that the profit would top £100,000, representing some two-thirds of the peak achieved before the recession hit home.

Still, the stock market, despite this year's surprising strength, remains a long way below its level of a few years ago. Indeed, the Footsie seemed to be advancing relentlessly towards its all-time peak of nearly 7,000 points (hit around the turn of the century in the dot.com boom) before the Northern Rock disaster heralded the destruction that would have to be endured.

A year ago the portfolio's profit, which excludes dividend payments, had dwindled to £79,000. A few abysmal investments have restrained its recovery, but I am loath to dump my walking wounded.

One, the heavily indebted Pubs'n'Bars, has departed of its own volition as its shares have been suspended and, regretfully, administrators called in. Others could offer some salvation – or at least a sufficient share price improvement to allow the portfolio to escape with some pride.

The rest look a reasonable collection and could offer rewards for the buy and hold investor. The portfolio has enjoyed many successes – and some disasters – in its near 11 years' existence. Investing, however, can be a frustrating occupation and the wayward display of a few shares is particularly galling. So, perhaps not surprisingly, I am disappointed with the short-term performance of some constituents.

Nighthawk Energy is one. The shares are around 32p, although on the available evidence they should be much higher. The trouble is much of the "evidence" is estimates of its US gas and oil reserves. No matter how authoritative such projections, there is, particularly in the hit-and-miss world of exploration, still substantial doubt. Even so, estimates of the group's worth remain way ahead of its current valuation.

Analyst Thomas Jones at researcher GE&CR has a 227p target price and one estimate of a reserve prompted Peter Bassett at stockbroker Westhouse Securities to say it would be "the equivalent of finding a large North Sea or West African oilfield".

Following its last share placing, Nighthawk has no near-term cash worries. And it is producing, though probably below what some observers expected. Although I am a little concerned about the poor performance of the shares, I am sticking with them.

Marston's has also failed to offer inspiration. Last week's results were mixed but offered encouragement. True, pre-tax profits collapsed, but property write-downs and other non-cash, one-off charges were largely responsible. Without these impediments the adjusted pre-tax profit was a little better than forecast. And there are signs that trading is improving, an experience most other quoted brewers and pub owners are also enjoying.

Stockbroker Astaire feels that Marston's, offering a six per cent-plus yield and backed by assets of around 138p a share, is a buy.

Mears has also attracted stockbroker attention. Collins Stewart examined the home care side of the support services group that still gets most of its income from its social housing operations. Based on domiciliary care prospects Collins' analysts Julian Cater and James Gilbert believe Mears is a buy and added a 335p target price.

They talk about consolidation in this growing market and suggest Mears has the wherewithal to achieve a significant expansion. In his last trading statement, chairman Bob Holt said Mears was "well placed to take a leading position in the consolidation and evolution of the domiciliary market".

Of the 15 portfolio constituents, Mears, which floated at 10p in 1996, is the only one to have been enlisted twice. It was an early (and highly profitable) recruit. The shares joined at 23p and were subsequently – probably unwisely – sold at 71.5p. They went on to hit 380p. I am, however, still awaiting the second bite at this particularly cherry to pay off. Although arriving at the Collins 335p target would be a pleasing experience, I am looking for a higher price.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
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

    SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

    Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

    £85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

    Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

    SQL DBA/Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering