Derek Pain: Progress of a sort as we are blessed with more info than ever
No Pain, No Gain
Saturday 07 April 2012
It could be argued that small shareholders have never had it so good. Although the bulk of the City still regards them as the (very) poor relations of the investment scene, they can obtain, thanks to the internet, more information about their shares than ever before.
In the bad old days, information was often in short supply. When I arrived in the City more than 50 years ago, newspapers were the main source of share prices and company news. By necessity they had to be selective and a great many companies – particularly small ones – were lucky to get a mention.
Another avenue was stockbrokers telephoning clients with news of developments, but they rarely bothered with the small player. And most communications direct from companies were by post. When strikes interfered with the leisurely delivery system, it was not unusual to find a company representative on the doorstep, particularly if a contested take over bid was under way.
I vaguely remember the company secretary of a now-forgotten concern called, if I recall correctly, Liverpool City Caterers, arriving at my home on a Sunday afternoon in the early 1970s when a strike had paralysed postal communications. He wanted my signature on a takeover document. I was happy to oblige, and after a glass or two he resumed his quest for LCC shareholders.
Since those dark, rather slow-moving news days, the information flow, both in quality and quantity, has improved immensely. The arrival of the internet has certainly transformed the lot of small shareholders. They can now log on to, say, the ADVFN web service, and at no cost obtain real time share prices and company news.
Should they insist – I do – postal links are still available. But many small shareholders are not computerised and unable to enjoy this information feast. In the main, they are those who are knocking on in years. They still rely on newspapers that continue to provide a vital service, various telephone links and what amounts to the modern day equivalent of the pigeon post. There is also an important service provided by the BBC, through its Ceefax text pages.
On Ceefax, there is a considerable range of company news and (via BBC1) around 2,500 share prices which are updated every 15 minutes. I suspect many find the BBC service invaluable. Besides covering top shares, it even offers the prices of obscure stocks such as Legendary Investments, priced at a mere 0.16p.
But this month's much-heralded switch to digital signals a BBC text cutback. The end of analogue TV means the BBC share service will be reduced to the top 350 shares, in effect the 100 shares of the benchmark Footsie index and those in the supporting FTSE 250 index. Out will go the vast majority of prices that are now displayed. The likes of Legendary Investments will no longer get a look-in.
Said the BBC in an email exchange: "We hope to offer the full service currently available on Ceefax if bandwidth allows."
I would not hold my breath for the old-fashioned share displays to be resumed in this multi-channelled digital age.
Another blow then to those who, by design or affordability, are not on the internet. Many companies no longer post interim statements and only send out, as they are still legally required, the yearly report. Those which post occasional information – such as take over developments – are dwindling by the month.
And, of course, telephone dealing with certificates is much more expensive than online trading. It is getting increasingly difficult for many computerless shareholders, particularly the elderly, to even remotely keep up with City developments in these days of what is almost a continuously updated information overload.
At least moves to dispense with yearly hardback reports and even the much-cherished paper share certificates have been abandoned but I suspect they will rear their ugly heads again in the not too distant future.
Spirit Pub Co, a no pain, no gain portfolio constituent, may, I think, survive the BBC carnage. Its shares have recently performed well.
Stockbroker Shore Capital remains a buyer and says that the group's strong recovery holds out hope that a dividend will be introduced. As I write, the shares are at a peak 62.5p, capitalising Spirit at £412m.
The Microsoft mogul told fans a few home truths during his Reddit AMA
Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal
Weekly Money: Round-up of the personal finance stories you may have missed 26-30 January
Revealed: Amazon earns more through government grants than it pays in tax
City Watchdog to investigate banks' handling of PPI compensation claims
Pension firms must ask consumers more questions, says City Watchdog
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...
Day In a Page
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion