Winners & Losers: Picking share winners is child's play

A YEAR AGO we asked Ellen Harrison, the five-and-a-half year old daughter of our Deputy Business and City Editor, to choose 10 stocks at random from our share price pages. This "alternative" method of stock selection resulted in one or two heady gains, but a couple of disappointments dragged the portfolio down to a 6 per cent fall on average.

Best performer was Filtronic, which makes components for mobile phone base stations. The strength of the telecoms sector pushed the shares 36 per cent higher.

Problem stocks included Carpetright, hit by weakening consumer spending, and Peptide Therapeutics, the biotech company which fell from favour.

This year we have opted for a slightly more sophisticated approach than sticking a pin in the paper. The class of 6b (10 and 11 year olds) at King Alfred's School in London - which includes the son of The Independent's Business and City Editor - was asked to select a portfolio of 10 shares, giving reasons in each case. Here they are.

Capital Radio, radio seems like a good business to be in. Ocean Group, liked the name. British Polythene Industries, because it has a good yield. British Steel, likewise and because it makes steel. Havelock Europa, no reason given. United Biscuits, because people like to eat biscuits. Vodafone,because the class mistook the p/e for the yield, which at 60 is indeed impressively high, but also because the mobile phone boom is expected to gather pace. Soco International, a play on the oil price, which is expected to recover. Independent Newspapers, because it publishes The Independent. Stoves Group, no reason given but presumably to anticipate an upturn in spending on household goods.