No Pain, No Gain: The rules of gravity always apply, what goes up...

A great many shares soar into the stratosphere – only to crash to earth as reality checks in. With hindsight, it is clear that Myhome International, the franchise group that is a constituent of the No Pain, No Gain portfolio, was well ahead of the game when it hit 106p last year.

Last week, the residential cleaning-to-car-valeting company was down to a miserable 14p. Following my comments, the price moved to 29p. It is now around 23p.

A number of former constituents, such as Prezzo and Goals Soccer Centres, have also failed to retain glamour ratings. But not all high-flyers surrender their glory. Asos, the internet retailer, is a classic example of a wonder stock that is still going strong.

Its AIM-traded shares recently topped 300p compared with the forlorn 4p or so where they resided five years ago. The price, as I write, is 273p.

A host of City analysts think the shares will continue to romp ahead. Their confidence is underpinned by the company's impressive trading performance. In the 12 months to March last year, pre-tax profit rose 144 per cent to £3.4m with sales 116 per cent higher at £42.6m. For good measure, it had £5.4m sitting in the bank. Back in 2003, the company (then called AsSeenonScreen) was making exceedingly confident noises about prospects but its pre-tax loss increased from £1.1m to £1.7m; figures, it could be argued, that justified that down-in-the-dumps 4p share price.

But that was the nadir of the group's fortunes. It soon swung into the black. And, for the year just ended, it has posted an encouraging trading bulletin. With sales reaching £81m, it indicated that profits would beat stock-market expectations. So, expect a figure around the £7m mark, struck after a £1.1m one-off charge.

For the current year, another profit explosion is likely. Indeed, stockbrokers seem to be queuing up to lavish praise and produce heady forecasts.

That is not always a good sign, although in Asos's case it could be unwise to argue against the chorus of praise. As a relatively small company (capitalised at nearly £200m), the internet player has already won the attention of many small-cap stockbrokers. But last week it collected a heavyweight admirer – none other than the blue-blooded and powerful institution of Cazenove.

It reckons the group's ability to convert sales into cash should make the shares worth 387p. I think Caz is the most optimistic of the fortune-tellers. For example, the much smaller Daniel Stewart has a 350p target. With profits of £11.1m being talked about for this year – and don't forget retailers are having a tough time – there must be a chance Caz is being too adventurous.

I last commented on the group in 2004. I was then thinking of adding the shares to the portfolio. Unfortunately, Asos is a runaway success that escaped. The shares had, in almost a straight line, then climbed from 4p to 30p. So I suggested would-be investors should wait for the excitement to abate a little. Although the shares have since suffered inevitable hiccups, anyone who ignored my advice is sitting pretty.

The group has been trading for eight years. It came to the stock market when the madcap internet surge had already evaporated. At first it concentrated on fashionable womenswear that appealed particularly to internet-savvy 16- to 34-year-olds. But it has since widened its range and now embraces such areas as menswear and jewellery. After an indifferent start, online shopping is taking an increasing share of the retail market. Asos has 1.8 million registered customers, and it seems set to log on many more.

Still, I have decided not to recruit the shares to the portfolio, at this point anyway. It is a decision I may well (again) regret, although they are on a sky-high rating that could be too rich for these turbulent times. But after so sadly missing the boat in 2004, I would not try to dissuade any investors who are prepared to climb on board.

There is always, of course, the chance of takeover activity. Asos must be looking particularly attractive to hard-pressed high-street fashion chains feeling the recessionary pinch.

I would, therefore, not be surprised to see it engulfed in corporate action. The impressive profit record should ensure a premium bid.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

    £50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

    £13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

    Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...