Investment column: Independent's tips are winners

BEFORE THE mayhem of the company reporting season gets under way next week, it seems worth returning to The Independent's share tips for 1999 to see how they have fared since the beginning of the year.

It was a tricky time to be a tipster. Growth stocks were few and far between amid continuing fears over consumer spending and sluggish economic growth. We decided to identify shares that looked oversold and were worth a bet on recovery.

However, one recovery we missed was the turnaround in commodities markets, which has seen oil and mining stocks re-rated. Even so, the portfolio, which included some bets and a speculative Internet stock, is up 25 per cent on the year, against a stock market up 9 per cent. The portfolio chosen by the classmates of the City editor's son meanwhile has risen 30 per cent, helped by the inclusion of British Steel and Independent Newspapers.

Ironically, it is Zergo, our "not for widows or orphans" Internet tip now known as Baltimore Technologies, which leads the climbers. The company's strengths in encrypting credit card numbers to make secure transactions over the Internet have seen the shares soar amid the City's optimism over e-commerce.

Barclays led the recovery plays, up 45 per cent since January following its decision to slash its back office staff and its appointment of a new chief executive this month. The logic also paid off with Asda. Its discount to the retail sector made it attractive to Kingfisher, and then to US retail giant Wal-Mart, whose takeover bid values the shares 37 per cent higher than at the beginning of 1999.

Our other recovery plays have fared less well. Bass tipped up from 881.5p to 1175p as Whitbread and Punch Taverns slogged it out for Allied Domecq's pubs, but has since fallen to 849p. Churchill China, our punt on Asian recovery, has hardly moved. But with Bass's Inter-Continental hotels performing well and recovery in Churchill's markets still on the cards, returns could still be forthcoming.

Of the safe bets, former conglomerate Hanson rose strongly from 541p to 632p in June and is still up despite recent profit taking. We like the group's strong position in the growing US construction market. Shares in Skillsgroup, the computer services company, have had a similar trajectory on the back of sensible acquisitions. It has suffered of late from profit- taking in the sector as a whole, but continues to look good value.

Seton Scholl, now SSL International after its merger with condom-maker London International Group, has drifted. The City wants more financial information on the merger's cost savings to reassure it that LIG was a safe play. We say the group's markets remain strong and the shares, at 750.5p, are a snip.

DCC soared to 585p in May but has since tumbled. The company, whose interests span energy and IT, is suffering from the rise in the oil price and fears over a freeze in IT spending ahead of the millennium.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all