Share Tips 2007: Young minds play the financial game

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The Independent Online

Every year, we test the theory that stocks picked at random from shares listed on the London Stock Exchange will perform at least as well as those selected by the so-called experts.

The task this year falls to Emma Warner, the six- year-old daughter of our Business and City Editor. The exercise wasn't quite as random as it should have been, as on surveying the shares page, she recognised both ITV and Next and immediately opted for them. The other eight stocks on which the metaphorical dart fell were Banco Santander, Liontrust (a fund management company), ClinPhone (medical IT), BTG (biotech), Sage (accountancy software), Erinaceous (property services), WSP (engineering consultancy), and Ladbrokes.

Last year's random selection was made by four-year-old Zack Castledine, nephew of Stephen Foley, The Independent's New York business correspondent. Zack's choice did very well, delivering a 25 per cent gain, well ahead of the 13 per cent increase in the FTSE-100 All Share.

Carter & Carter, which trains car mechanics and other support services staff, was the star performer. Its shares rose 130 per cent after delivering record profits and some clever acquisitions. The conservatories maker Ultraframe gained 20 per cent after being taken over, while Kelda, the owner of Yorkshire Water, benefited from the craze in the investment community for infrastructure companies and saw its valuation rise by 69 per cent.

Among the poor performers in Zack's portfolio, Evolution is the most surprising. Despite the booming equity markets around the world, the stockbroker issued a profit warning in October which sent its shares tumbling.