Eight top share tips from the professionals

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The Independent Online

Our eight experts turned in a bravura performance last year, coming within an ace of dethroning the Indy's tipsters. Had you put £1,000 into each one of their eight stocks your £8,000 would have turned into a whopping £12,181.

Our guys clearly earned their bonus money in 2013. Out of their seven tips just one lost money (oil explorer Salamander). But its lamentable performance was more than made up for by the winners, particularly Utilitywise which turned in a remarkable 165 per cent gain. As for the FTSE 100 predictions, our panel's cautious forecasts ranged from 6,100 to 6,550, with even the most bullish a little way off the final close of 6,749.09.

So that their compliance officers don't beat them up, I should stress the views expressed here for 2014 are the participants' own and don't necessarily reflect those of their employers.

Stephen Adams, head of UK equities, Kames Capital

Carphone Warehouse: "The outlook appears rosy with 4G coverage by the networks set to increase significantly and with it data usage. The company also has scope to expand its outsourcing services within continental Europe. An attractive valuation and return to the FTSE 250 index also make me positive on Carphone Warehouse."

FTSE 100 prediction 7,100

David Buik, market commentator at broker Panmure Gordon

"I'm going for Ashtead Group, the equipment rental company. The boys at Panmure love this stock and it has great orders from US in 2014 that should drive earnings."

FTSE 100 prediction 7,100

Michael Ingram, market analyst, BGC Partners

Premier Foods: "The company is almost a pure play on an accelerating UK economy. The stock was badly beaten up as chief executive Gavin Darby struggled to financially restructure, but it is now trading at a quarter of the forward earnings multiple for the sector and a third lower than that of the market."

FTSE 100 prediction 7,050

Brenda Kelly, chief market strategist, IG Group

Thomas Cook: "It may seem strange to anticipate more upside for a stock that has already added 250 per cent in the last year but I think Thomas Cook has a shot. A stronger pound, lower unemployment, inflation close to the Bank of England target, higher consumer sentiment, and the promise of a low interest rate environment should all bode for better revenues. Recent moves to expand online put the company in a fair position to capitalise."

FTSE 100 prediction 7,200

Jonathan Pollin, chief executive of wealth management company Ashcourt Rowan

Berkeley Group Holdings: "The South East and London property market has further to go and Berkeley is one of the best positioned house builders. The company has a good land bank and probably the best leadership within the sector through Tony Pidgley."

FTSE 100 prediction 7,500

Nik Stanojevic, equity analyst, Brewin Dolphin

Direct Line: "Rescue your income shortfall with Direct Line's potential 40 per cent dividend growth. The firm could yield 8.9 per cent in 2015 as it cuts costs and can afford to pay out more of its earnings due to its strong and improving capital position".

FTSE 100 prediction 7,400

Tom Elliott, international investment strategist for financial consultant deVere

Hill & Smith Holdings: "This engineering company that provides transport infrastructure has enjoyed a strong rally in recent months, partly in anticipation of an upturn in UK infrastructure spending. Strong management controls and a progressive dividend policy make this a long term stock to own. I own it myself."

FTSE 100 prediction 7,000

Garry White, chief investment Commentator at broker Charles Stanley

Petrofac: "The shares hit a two-year low in December, as investors worried about large project delays and a £600m spending programme to move the onshore oil service company into undersea operations. However, the company maintained its long-term target of doubling earnings between 2010 and 2015. Sentiment around the shares is very low and if the group can deliver on new contracts in 2014, market expectations are likely to move higher."

FTSE 100 prediction 7,200