The winners of this month's Independent Bulls and Bears Investment Club Competition found it a whole lot easier to spot a bull than a bear.
The £1,000 prizewinners are the Well Chewed Over Investment Club from the Cathedral city of Wells in Somerset. Chairman Tony Harrison explains the bizarre name: "When the first 15 of us met up last November to decide on a name, there were so many suggestions that I decided on this one - since the name had been 'well chewed over'."
April was a particularly dismal month for technology stocks. Considering clubs were asked to pick the biggest movers in the electronics sector, it is little wonder that the winners spotted a big faller and a share which hardly moved upwards at all.
The club chose Densitron Technologies as their bear share. Densitron lost over a quarter of its market value between the competition dates of 14 April to 28 April, falling 26.55 per cent from 282.5p to 207.5p. The period in question coincided with the big sell-off in the NASDAQ technology stockmarket index, prompted by a court ruling against Microsoft and a prevailing feeling that the internet bubble was ripe for bursting.
Their second share was more of a tortoise than a bull. Thorpe edged up just 0.94 per cent, from 106p to 107p.
The share selection process for the competition was delegated to Brian Norris, a retired manager of the Bristol & West Building Society, and his wife Janette. They say they picked Thorpe because it was "close to its 52-week low, and had one of the lowest price/earnings ratios in the sector at the time".
The club is made up of friends from Wells and nearby villages such as Chewton Mendip and Ston Easton, says Mr Harrison. It now numbers 20 members. "We started in November 1999, and we put in a total of about £600 a month. At the moment we hold Marconi, Vocalis, Skyepharma and Redstone Telecom. We have about £600 invested in each."
Mr Harrison, who is the manager of a police nationality unit in Wells says each member is allowed to put in as much as they feel appropriate, between £10 and £50 a month. "The average is £30", he adds. The portfolio is solidly telecoms and bio-technology-based. Mr Harrison admits this part of the market has taken a battering recently. "Its got to get better. There are so many good telecom and IT companies out there, its got to go forward - the sooner the better!"
The competition is sponsored by Charles Schwab, the largest discount brokerage in the UK, and organised by Proshare, which promotes share ownership. The prize will be presented in Bristol tomorrow at a ProShare investment seminar.
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