Private Investor: Time comes to reverse the truck, and sell

I've finally offloaded my Alliance and Leicester shares this week. Having followed fevered reports in the press about their imminent takeover by one of a variety of touted continental suitors last year I decided to "back up the truck" and buy a heap, well a small heap, for the portfolio. Usually I don't bother with takeover rumours, either published or unpublished, because they very often turn out to be rubbish, or "right at the time" as we say in the newspaper business.

Alliance and Leicester was a rare exception to the rule, and after more than a year of waiting for an offer for the mortgage bank to materialise, I've given up on it happening. Despite the decent yield and quite an impressive set of results last week I've sold my holding at a loss of 5 per cent or so. I actually sold them before the results statement, because I was getting nervous about the market as a whole, which has had its share of gyrations lately.

So that was one share I dumped with few regrets. I also sold down some of my stake in Rightmove, the on-line estate agent. For what it's worth, I do think the long boom in British residential property will be coming to an end soon, and the world will see quite a slowdown in economic growth in, I guess, 18 months' time. The creaking world economic ship just has too many imbalances to carry on as we have been doing; and correcting imbalances usually involves a great deal of pain for a great number of people.

Out of it, as in previous recessions, may emerge stronger economies more capable of sustainable growth, as was the case in previous slowdowns that sorted out the Japanese/US trade imbalances, the legacy of the junk bond phenomenon, and the collapse, to take examples from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s respectively.

So, I suspect, it will be with the various excesses associated with the runaway Chinese economy (in certain ways – such as the trade surplus – analogous to the old positions of the US and Japan), and also with America's re-emerging twin budget and external deficits, booming commodity prices and, indeed, the giddyishly high value of property here in Britain.

Just ask yourself this question: do you really think a world-wide slowdown or recession is likely or unlikely in the next two years? My guess is that you wouldn't dismiss it out of hand, which is as good an indication as any of confidence.

Which brings me back to Rightmove. Long term, as with my Witan Pacific and JP Morgan Fleming India Investment trusts, I'm an extremely bullish fan of Rightmove, as I think it has the advantage of being already dominant in a market that will steadily migrate from estate agents' windows and newspaper property supplements to the web. Short term, however, there have to be worries about what, exactly, rising interest rates will bring in their wake.

If anything I should say that were interest rates higher now and inflationary expectations knocked firmly on the head we might not have to endure more interest rate rises going into the medium term. A stitch in time, and all that.

Either way, though, Rightmove will probably suffer with most other property stocks, so I've decided to take some of my very substantial profit and sell some shares. I've managed to make 89 per cent since last November, so I'll count that as a success.

By the way, I'm still being plagued by "stockbrokers" (real and bogus) calling me up and trying to part me from my hard-earned. However, I'm getting better and better at winding them up and I advise you to do the same (provided they've not got some scam that means you pay for the phone call or if they ring you from abroad on your mobile).

I'd ask as many questions as you can of them, take notes and then post the results on bulletin boards and the like to warn others. In the worst cases, ring the company secretary of the shares these "stockbrokers" mention and tell the FSA. But don't forget to take the mickey out of these crooks and rogues first.

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

Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
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

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions