No Pain, No Gain: £35,500 profit and a new prospect recruited

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The Independent Online

This week I am recruiting Printing.com, the fast-growing hi-tech printer. I have been monitoring the company for months and although the authoritative research I have been promised has yet to materialiseI have dillied and dallied long enough.

This week I am recruiting Printing.com, the fast-growing hi-tech printer. I have been monitoring the company for months and although the authoritative research I have been promised has yet to materialiseI have dillied and dallied long enough.

The shares are traded on the fringe Ofex market. I am buying at 30.5p; they have been as high as 36p. Unlike many young companies, Printing.com is in profit, achieving a pre-tax figure of £510,000 in its last year and £251,000 in the first 28 weeks of its present year. The analyst ,Roger Hardman, believes profits will top £1m this year and nudge £1.5m next.

It is the second time I have taken the portfolio into the often dangerous waters of the lightly regulated Ofex market, which is planning to become a much more powerful rival to the Alternative Investment Market (Aim), the Stock Exchange's junior market. It has recruited a host of Aim people and, armed with the proceeds of a £1m cash-raising exercise, seems capable of mounting a strong challenge. Aim has been a major success. But there are doubts in some quarters whether the Stock Exchange is fully committed to its junior market, which represents only a tiny proportion of its total turnover.

My earlier Ofex constituent was a now-departed restaurant chain called Montana. I alighted on the shares because I was captivated by the success of the rather up-market American-style eateries the company created. The £5,000 investment achieved a near-£3,000 profit when the business collected a bid, which I accepted, from Hartford, the Aim-traded bars and restaurants group. Montana did not prove to be a rewarding acquisition for Hartford, which slumped into the penny dreadful category under a multitude of problems.

The group, now embracing the Jamie's wine bars chain, does appear to be rallying but still has a long way to go to recapture past glories. I am delighted that I followed the old stock market axiom of selling when a bid arrives.

My hope is that Printing.com will be even more rewarding than Montana. I would expect shares of the instant printer, which has a growing chain of outlets feeding its Manchester printing hub, to move to Aim eventually. Any cash call that should accompany the elevation will, I believe, be a modest affair. But I must stress that Printing.com is still in the early stages of development and its shares must be regarded as highly speculative. Not, as they say, for widows and orphans.

Since I last reviewed the portfolio, it has continued to progress and now contains just two loss-makers, Wyatt, just a penny below my buying price, and Profile Media, where the red ink is deep and debilitating. Merrydown, the cider and Shloer soft drink group, followed by the builder Galliford Try, lead the pack.

Glisten, the acquisitive confectionery group recruited less than a year ago, is in third place with the oldest member, the finance house S&U, a commendable fourth. Unlike many other share-tipping exercises, losses are not conveniently forgotten when the overall performance is drawn up. The damage they have inflicted is included in the overall portfolio profit, just above £35,500.

Even with the arrival of Printing.com, the 14th constituent, I feel the portfolio is a little light.

Sixteen, in my view, represents an ideal membership and I would like to return to that level fairly soon. I am looking at a couple of shares, including the Urbium bars chain, and may next week increase the portfolio to 15 before leaving next month for a holiday in Lanzarote.

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