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|Share tips' performance for the year ending
|The Sunday Times
It has been a fairly good year for the newspapers' new year share tips.Most managed to beat the FTSE 250's 14% return, and all but two beat the FTSE 100's 7.1%. By far the best performance came from the Evening Standard, which we have included in our round-up for the first time.
Perhaps having George Osborne, the ex-chancellor and current BlackRock consultant, as editor inspired the City Desk. The commuters' favourite evening freesheet returned a very impressive 45.5%.Its top pick was estate agent Purplebricks, which rose by 177.5% over the year, while Hutchison China MediTech gained 146%. Just one of its picks Severn Trent Water fell, losing 2%.
The Daily Telegraph, Times and Daily Mail all put in creditable performances, returning 21.5%, 20.3% and 20.2% respectively. The Daily Telegraph's top pick was upmarket drinks company Fever-Tree, which rose by 107%.
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Litigation finance provider Burford Capital was The Times's standout selection, climbing 101%. And the Daily Mail's top performer was Gfinity, an e-Sports tournament operator, which returned 74%.
The Independent at least managed a positive return at 6.1%, but failed to beat either index. Persimmon was its most lucrative choice, up 54%.The wooden spoon goes to The Guardian, which managed to lose money for unfortunate punters who followed its tips. Its worst pick was regional airline Flybe, which lost over 28%.
and what they're tipping for the year ahead
The Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, may have sprung a leak, but global instability and an expanding US defence budget mean that defence firm BAE Systems should come good following a poor performance last year (573p). Online retailer Boohoo is one of the "leading lights of the fast fashion revolution" and is snapping up rival clothing brands (188.5p).
Metro Bank has distinguished itself from other challenger banks by investing in bricks-and-mortar branches investors should buy into its "boots on the ground" strategy (3,584p). The last 12 months have brought more cyberattacks on big organisations, but shareholders in cybersecurity firm Sophos stand to gain (570p).
The continued travails of the high street mean that shopping-centre owners are turning to family-friendly leisure firms such as Hollywood Bowl (206p). Fuel-cell maker Ceres Power is working with Nissan on electric vehicles and its shares should continue their already strong progress into 2018 (13p). The video-games industry makes more money than Hollywood does now, and Frontier Developments is one of the UK's leaders in the field (1,324.5p).
Yorkshire-based steel contractor Severfield has worked on everything from the Olympic Stadium and The Shard to Wimbledon's Centre Court in recent years. With increased infrastructure spending in the pipeline, there could be upside in the new year (79.75p).
Shares in outsourcing company Serco fell 40% last year, but things can only get better with a "surge in new contracts" from Whitehall (98.5p). Keystone Law is trying to shake-up the "staid" legal profession and it just might be the next Purplebricks (190p). Mitie has been restructuring and investing in technology and 2018 could be "payback time" (193p). Warehouse owner Segro will benefit as the online retail boom drives demand for storage and distribution space (585.25p). If 2018 is a bad year for stocks, Egyptian gold miner Centamin could be a good hedge (159p).
Educational publisher Pearson has had a terrible year, but a turnaround could be in the works (736p). Merlin Entertainments should benefit from higher inbound tourism to the UK and is also expanding around the world (362p). Cluff Natural Resources has picked up some promising North Sea gas acreage at rock-bottom prices the shares will do well if it finds a rich business partner for the venture (2.5p).
Rising oil prices and a slumping pound have hit airline stocks, but the political risk is now priced in for EasyJet, which should also benefit from Monarch's collapse (1,464p). The market is taking bets on the next gambling industry tie-up, and 888 seems a "racing certainty" to be involved (281.75p). The introduction of price caps and tough competition makes energy firm SSE seem a strange bet, but the business has been winning in the switching wars and looks cheap (1,320p).
Prudential is now one of Asia's leading insurers and is also expanding in Africa (1,905.5p). Shares in Applied Graphene Materials have slumped, but the business is quietly building up orders it's one to watch (42p).
BP has lagged its peers recently, but demand for oil will strengthen this year and oil-cartel Opec is keeping a lid on supply (522.75p). Footasylum debuted on Aim in October and its management should prove adept at piloting the trainers and hoodie vendor through a difficult period for retailers (252.5p).
Science and technology investor Allied Minds has fallen back after its picks failed to hit the big time, but it's now cheap enough to merit a punt (165p). "As much aNew Year's resolution as a share tip", low-cost operator Gym Group should profit "if the population sticks to its vows to look after itself in 2018" (220p).
Micro Focus, Britain's biggest listed technology company, pulled off a coup in 2017 when it gobbled up Hewlett Packard's software business more deals may follow. It offers a decent dividend as well (2,523p). Takeaway website Just Eat overtook supermarket Sainsbury's in market value this year and there could still be some upside in store (781p). Insurer Legal & General offers a 5.5% yield and a reasonable valuation (273.25p).
Speciality chemicals maker Synthomer has a knack for "under-promising and over-delivering" and 2018 could bring further exciting developments (491.5p). Specialist plumbing and heating distributor Ferguson offers exposure to rising US construction spending in a year when the UK market may underperform (5,330p). Fashion firm Burberry is well placed to profit from increasing affluence in the Far East and has plenty of cash to throw around when it sees fit (1,792p). Construction group Kier should benefit from growing UK infrastructure spending (1,088p).
The Sunday Times
Oxford BioMedica is at the forefront of the revolution in immunotherapy with further upside highly likely (8.75p). Broadband upstart CityFibre is still loss-making because of the upfront costs of digging up all those roads to lay cables, but it will reap "a tidy return" down the line (59p). Problems at rivals Carillion and Interserve have held back Balfour Beatty's shares, but Britain's biggest builder boasts a strong balance sheet and its dividend is heading higher (297p).
A government crackdown on problem gambling could prompt consolidation in the betting industry and any deals involving William Hill should bring value for shareholders (322p).
The release of the iPhone X and Donald Trump's tax holiday means that "all is set fair" for Apple in 2018 ($169.23). Streaming giants Netflix and Amazon poses problems for ITV, but its shares look cheap as we enter a World Cup year (165.5p). Trials for a flu drug at biotech start-up Faron Pharmaceuticals could be a game-changer (800p).
Clipper, which delivers for retail giants such as Asda and handles returns for Asos, is a clever way to play the online retail trend (440p). Investors wishing to bet on the UK in 2018 should back Lloyds Banking Group (68p).
The Sunday Telegraph
Data and analytics company Relx is one of those firms that "consistently grind out good but unspectacular returns" and could benefit from a growing backlash against the big tech firms (1,739p). The end of oil is nigh, but Shell is diversifying early and its reduced exposure to fossil fuels could see its share price surge (2,486p).
Brick manufacturer Forterra has had a strong run, but remains modestly priced the government's £44bn housing fund could prove a catalyst for higher sales (298.25p). It has not been a "sparkling year" for Petra Diamonds, but the "stars could be aligned" for a turnaround in the new year (78p).
B&M European Value Retail is "one of the safest bets in the retail sector" as tighter household budgets bring more gains to discount stores (423.5p). Last year was a tough one for airlines, but Wizz Air provides exposure to faster-growing economies in eastern and central Europe (3,680p). The rich need more financial advice than ever, and wealth manager St James's Place is well positioned to provide it (1,226p). Buying into insolvency business Begbies Traynor may sound "like betting against Britain", but it makes sense to hedge your portfolio, especially if an interest-rate rise spells doom for Britain's army of "zombie firms" (65p).
Take advantage of share-price weakness at automotive and aerospace parts supplier GKN good fundamentals and rumours of a private-equity bid make it worth a punt (319.5p). This could be a breakthrough year for Britain's challenger banks and OneSavings Bank looks like "the pick of the bunch" (412.5p). Property developer Urban & Civic looks set to tap into the need for more affordable houses (287p).
Retail bond watch
Midlands rugby club Wasps saw the value of its retail bonds slide by more than 10% after it admitted that "accounting irregularities" mean it has breached covenants on the bonds, says The Daily Telegraph. The club will ask bondholders to agree to revised terms at a meeting on 19 January. Wasps, which plays in the Aviva Premiership, had overstated its profits for the year to the end of June 2017 by accounting for a £1.1m cash injection from a major shareholder as income.
Auditors ruled the payment should have been booked as equity and should also have been booked in the 2018 financial year, rather than 2017. Wasps raised £35m in April 2015 when it issued the bonds, which pay interest of 6.5% and mature in 2022. The bonds were trading at around £104.5 before the announcement (a yield to maturity of 5.5%), but are now priced at around £93.50 and yield 8.3%.
A French view
Investors should take advantage of an "air pocket" in the share price of Paris-listed flooring manufacturer Tarkett, says Investir. The firm, which is the world leader in innovative sports floor and surface solutions, saw its shares double over the last three years but they have fallen back 15% in the past six months after weaker results, especially in North America. This is almost entirely due to currency effects, which "account for more than half the decline in gross operating profit", and rising raw materials costs.
Collectively, these have cut earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) from €119m in the third quarter of 2016 to €101m in the third quarter of 2017. Full-year results will also be down, but management is already taking action to address the problems in 2018. Overall, "the disappointment seems transitory. The favourable outlook is not in question."
As the man chosen to succeed Steve Jobs at Apple, Tim Cook had an impossible task, says The Dastardly Mr Deedes in the Daily Mail. "Like Walt Disney before him, Jobs was the company"; his charisma inspired "an almost cult-like following". Cook could not be more different. But while there may no longer be "era-defining moments like the launch of the iPhone", Apple is a "more mature beast" now, with less of the truculence of the Jobs era.
Cook is at least trying to put it on a "more socially responsible footing", even if there are questions about its tax affairs. And he has pledged his £500m of Apple shares to good causes. He may not be a "great man" like Jobs, but he is "probably a little nicer".
As the first outsider to take the helm at HSBC, Mark Tucker is "both blessed and cursed", says Nisha Gopalan on Bloomberg Gadfly. Outgoing CEO Stuart Gulliver has "largely done the tough work of retrenching staff and pivoting toward Asia", but it's now time to grow again. Tucker will have to defend HSBC's market share against "aggressive mainland competitors". Shaking up the bank's "conservative culture" will be no cakewalk either. But "if anyone can make HSBC a more dynamic bank, it's Tucker", a "seasoned Asia hand" who's done it before at insurer AIA. "Three months in, and the future's looking bright."
Richard Cousins of Compass, who died in a plane crash last week, was an "exceptional businessman", says Ian King on Sky News. The catering group was on its knees when he took over, yet shareholders saw total returns of 840% during his tenure. The whole of UK plc should lament his passing, says the FT's Lex. After leaving Compass, Cousins would probably have taken on non-executive roles. It's a pity other firms "will not benefit from his forthright counsel".
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