Private Investor: A little Docklands wonder that's worth catching
Saturday 05 March 2005
Regular readers will know that I don't have a terribly well developed theory of investing that I stick to religiously, like Warren Buffet or Jim Slater, say.
Regular readers will know that I don't have a terribly well developed theory of investing that I stick to religiously, like Warren Buffet or Jim Slater, say. The fact that they are where they are and I am where I am suggests that of the three of us, one has not quite got the hang of this getting rich game.
Never mind. Modest returns are the best that I think most of us ought to aspire to, from well diversified portfolios with an eye to the long term. One thing that is always worth looking for, however, is a good "secular" growth story, one that will sustain pretty much whatever happens to the economy short term, and, indeed whatever befalls the nation politically.
Thus the liberalisation and expansion of the gambling market should be one lucrative area for those operating in it, despite the climb-downs the Government has to execute in its Gambling Bill. The relaxation of the licensing laws is another.
Both policies are morally reprehensible, as they will increase drunkenness and addiction to gambling, the evils of which will be known to anyone unfortunate enough to have brushed with them. Booze and betting can be fun, but they can also destroy families. Yet the opportunities for investors to profit from vice are clear to all, and that is why I have shares in Sportingbet and Scottish & Newcastle, for example.
The other secular growth story that has been well chronicled over the years but which never seems to pause for long is the trend to outsourcing. There are plenty of companies now crowding into this field, and I have bought Capita as a good way into this market. I think that Serco is an even better bet though, and one that I have neglected until now, when its very good results this week caught my attention.
For Serco not only gets stuck into the routine sort of PFI style activity such as rail franchising and running young offenders institutes (another play on human vice, but I digress); it also has an interest in running some our speed cameras.
These much loved national institutions can only proliferate as the public authorities use them more and more as a revenue raising device. If they were all about safety - and I concede that they must always be partly about safety - then surely the authorities would not make them so hard to see and easy to miss. For if the Government really wanted its "safety camera partnerships" to keep death off the roads they would be planting gigantic signs warning about speed traps well in advance.
No matter. There are hardly any on the motorway network, they are still relatively uncommon in some parts of the country and developments in technology will make them ever more difficult to evade. Drivers may be infuriated by the fines they have to pay for comparatively minor transgressions, but it is all good news for Serco and its shareholders.
And it's not all Gatsos; the other bit of Serco's business that seems set to continue its success is the Docklands Light Railway in London. Despite the coming of the Jubilee Undergound Line to Canary Wharf and Stratford, the DLR is still a busy little railway, largely automated and very reliable. It is an excellent play on the continued success of London's Dockland business district, which has now grown to such a critical mass that it ought to be able to withstand most recessions (as it spectacularly failed to live through the last one).
Serco seems a good bet to have its contract to run the DLR renewed next year. The only risks with Serco are its expansion into the IT business in the UK and the defence industry in the US, both by recent acquisitions. Companies like Serco ought to stick to their knitting, but the risks seem in proportion. So I shall be buying into Serco on the first hint of weakness in the share price, and possibly before. Maybe Warren and Jim have shares in it too.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
tvSpolier alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Auction house to give away $1m masterpiece in charity raffle - and tickets are only $100 each
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Australia: Gay marriage law reversed by high court less than a week after first weddings
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Regulatory Man...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Pre-Sales / Cl...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Regulatory Man...
£40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer (CCNP, CCIE, Netwo...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.
A six-bedroom detached period property with secluded gardens, ample parking and a double garage in Rye, £675,000.
A large split-level property with three double-bedrooms and roof terrace, close to Crouch End Broadway, £625,000.
A charming barn conversion in the picturesque Cotswold village of Ilmington with three bedrooms, a detached garage, workshop and beautifully manicured gardens £675,000.