Three to buy
(The Sunday Telegraph) When stocks slump one beneficiary is the spread-betting industry. CMC Markets came into the crisis “in good shape”, with profits up more than fourfold at the last half-year report in September. Recent market swings have seen clients’ trading activity running at twice the normal volume, which should bring a £10m-£15m revenue boost in March alone. On 11 times next year’s earnings the rating is undemanding and cash on the balance sheet accounts for almost a fifth of the firm’s market value, which is a comfort. Keep buying. 166p
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
(Shares) This global food group’s services are in high demand as supermarkets rush to keep their shelves stocked. Big operators like Hilton have an advantage in the meat-packing business, a consolidating sector that demands high traceability standards and reasonable costs. The group has also moved into fish, while investment in vegetarian specialist Dalco provides some protection against the decline in meat sales. A robust balance sheet should see Hilton through the difficult months ahead. This is “a company to own for the long-term”. 945p
(The Sunday Times) The race is on to find treatments for Covid-19. This little-known British biotech is starting clinical trials of interferon beta, a protein that boosts the lung’s defences. A successful trial would mark a turnaround for a stock caught up in the Neil Woodford fiasco last year. Clinical trials are “notoriously high risk”, but previous tests on patients with multiple sclerosis have already laid some of the groundwork. Buy. 46p
Three to sell
(Investors Chronicle) This Kurdistan-focused oil producer says that it can still generate cash when oil prices are low, but the price slump is testing even the fittest producers. Last year was a banner year for Genel, as previous losses turned into a $132m profit and it launched a generous dividend. The firm says that its strong cash position will keep it resilient at prices as low as $30/barrel, but given an unprecedented demand shock coupled with the Saudi-Russian supply war even that price level could prove optimistic. Exit before things get worse. 82p
(Investors Chronicle) A “smart” infrastructure and technology construction business such as Costain should have been a sure bet given the government’s decision to greenlight HS2 and a £640bn infrastructure plan. Yet contract delays and profit warnings have seen the share price plunge by 88% over the past year. The shares are close to all-time lows, but “spiralling costs” on a National Grid contract and uncertainty over future road investment make them a “value trap”, not a “value play”. Sell. 38p
(The Times) The Gulf-based hospital provider offers exposure to the structural growth of private healthcare in a wealthy part of the world. Yet disquieting recent news ranges from “suspicions of fraud” to an extraordinary $4.3bn revaluation of its stated debts. Trading in the shares was suspended in London at the end of February. Investors now have little choice but to cut their losses “when they can”. 939p
...and the rest
The Daily Telegraph
Fans of drinks makers Diageo and Rémy Cointreau will stick around whether locked down or not, so buy now (2,381p; $15). France’s Dassault Systèmes makes cutting-edge design software, has a long-term culture and customer retention is high. Buy (€131). People still need to buy clothes and Next has a well thought-out strategy for moving online – buy (3,965p). There is evidence that pet owners would rather go without in hard times than cut spending on their furry friends, so buy Pets at Home (243p). Craneware, a maker of software that helps hospitals to run more efficiently, should see rising demand. Buy (1,310p).
Near-zero interest rates are bad news for Britain’s banks, but a share-price pullback at OneSavings Bank represents an opportunity to buy into a well-run and resilient business that will weather the crisis (210p). Social distancing is generating a boom in video gaming, so buy developer Codemasters while the stock is cheap (215p).
A prolonged lockdown will only accelerate the trend towards online grocery shopping, so keep buying Ocado (1,343p). Document management business Restore was “firing on all cylinders” at the end of last year and a strong financial base ensures that it should be “first out of the blocks” once the economy returns to normal (360p). “Boring” and “stable” utility companies are always appealing in times of stress. SSE is the pick of the bunch; it has an edge over peers in green technology (1,134p).
Business was booming at travel food and drink outlet specialist SSP before the shutdown, but the dividend has now been suspended. Hold (290p).
Trading terms: The Santa Rally
Glossary Will the Santa Rally result in its traditional December effect on global markets?
By Dr Matthew Partridge Published
Lock in high yields on savings, before they disappear
As interest rates peak, time to lock in high yields on your savings, while they are still available.
By Ruth Jackson-Kirby Published
Halifax: House price slump continues as prices slide for the sixth consecutive month
UK house prices fell again in September as buyers returned, but the slowdown was not as fast as anticipated, latest Halifax data shows. Where are house prices falling the most?
By Kalpana Fitzpatrick Published
Rents hit a record high - but is the opportunity for buy-to-let investors still strong?
UK rent prices have hit a record high with the average hitting over £1,200 a month says Rightmove. Are there still opportunities in buy-to-let?
By Marc Shoffman Published
Pension savers turn to gold investments
Investors are racing to buy gold to protect their pensions from a stock market correction and high inflation, experts say
By Ruth Emery Published
Where to find the best returns from student accommodation
Student accommodation can be a lucrative investment if you know where to look.
By Marc Shoffman Published
Best investing apps
We round up the best investing apps. Looking for an easy-to-use app to help you start investing, keep track of your portfolio or make trades on the go?
By Ruth Emery Last updated
The top funds to invest in - November 2023
Tips Investors are focused on income strategies and FTSE heavyweights. We look at what investors have been adding to their portfolios in the last month
By Vaishali Varu Last updated
The world’s best bargain stocks
Searching for bargain stocks with Alec Cutler of the Orbis Global Balanced Fund, who tells Andrew Van Sickle which sectors are being overlooked.
By Andrew Van Sickle Published
Revealed: the cheapest cities to own a home in Britain
New research reveals the cheapest cities to own a home, taking account of mortgage payments, utility bills and council tax
By Ruth Emery Published