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.
Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
Pensioners to be told how long they have left to live to help them plan their finances
Erudio Student Loans: Reader has cash wrongly taken from account by debt collector
Row goes on over deferred student loans
How to start your own internet business
The whole truth about legal fees: Conveyancing can knock a big hole in home-buyers' finances. To get the best deal you must cross-examine solicitors about their charges, says Sue Fieldman
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
- 5 Mrs Doubtfire 2: Robin Williams set to star in sequel to 1993 comedy
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
iJobs Money & Business
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£221.25 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a well established Inter...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Relationship Manager - SQL...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Take your chance to join the...
Day In a Page
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
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds