Take two! Action! Now I'm a market guru

Leo Lewis put his share-tipping skills to the test on Channel 4 and instantly became the Sage of Shepherd's Bush
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The Independent Online

Fifty million quid may sound like a lot of money to you, but to a finger-on-the-pulse market guru like me it's all in a day's work.

Fifty million quid may sound like a lot of money to you, but to a finger-on-the-pulse market guru like me it's all in a day's work.

Yeah, right.

Last week, I finally lost my TV virginity by appearing on Channel 4's Show Me The Money, and tipping a chosen share to a panel of contestants. Within a few minutes of my gabbled 90-second plug, Forbidden Technologies had surged a ridiculous 34 per cent. Forget fundamentals. Forget earnings per share, profit forecasts and dividend yield. Leo Lewis had tipped the stock, and apparently, the Sage of Shepherd's Bush is never wrong.

Other pundits, it seems, can make waves before even getting in front of a camera. A hoax phone call tricked the Sun's City editor, Ian King, into revealing his choice before the broadcast, and, though the tip was abandoned, the internet share traders went to town on a tiddler of a firm that's called Screen.

Something doesn't quite tally. As I explained to the viewing public, since joining the Independent on Sunday, I have been a regular writer for our Punting in the City column. As followers will know, the emphasis of its recommendations tends to be on long-term investments. The market is full of risky ways of making a fast buck, but "Punting" is a firm believer in the notion that slow and steady wins the race.

Show Me The Money, I discovered, adopts a slightly different approach. The week before the broadcast, I spent the afternoon in a screen-test, rehearsing for the live performance on Monday. In fact, the only thing I was asked to practise was my swift exit during a three-second musical interlude. For my tip, I had come armed with Alliance & Leicester. A complex stock with a complex argument behind it.

No sooner had the words "strategic restructuring" passed my lips than the show's resident expert launched into a frenzied attack on the choice. I soon saw why. The contestants, a team that called itself the Dolly Dealers, were far from impressed. Their survival on the show depends on making a lightning profit, and preferably one that will show up by the next day. Watching from the wings as they made their selection, I winced as one of the Dollies, possibly Bella, dismissed the long-term prospects of A&L with a "pull the other one" roll of the eyes.

I had got the measure of this one. By Monday all my wide-boy instincts had been cultivated: come up with Forbidden, and suddenly I was a market-moving guru. While I was having my face powdered, the shares stood stagnant at 212p: by the time I was back in the green room, they'd jumped to 285p. And, as Reuters soberly pointed out, the Dollies hadn't even gone with my tip.

The trouble is, the spike was alarmingly predictable. Last season, Show Me The Money was notorious for affecting the shares of featured companies. Brokers in smaller houses found they could no longer leave for lunch because they would miss a slew of retail orders from inspired viewers buying immediately after the show. The programme eventually sailed close to a legal wind as some City traders attempted to find out what would be tipped before the show, knowing they could get in and out before Joe Public.

As the shares tumbled down over the next couple of days, I realised that my moment in the sun was over. Disappointingly, the market-moving felt more City Slicker than Warren Buffett.

Somebody out there had made about £50m in half an hour, but it sure as hell wasn't me. Honest!