Share tips of the week

MoneyWeek’s comprehensive guide to the best of this week’s share tips from the rest of the UK's financial pages.

Three to buy

International Biotechnology Trust

(The Mail on Sunday) Founded in 1994, IBT gives British shareholders a way to invest in the firms developing new treatments for conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s and rheumatoid arthritis. Most of the portfolio is based in America and 90% is invested in listed firms, which reduces risk. The sector is benefiting from the structural tailwind of an ageing population. With a “long and impressive track record” and a dividend payment to boot, this seems a good way to gain exposure. 786p

Next

(Investors Chronicle) Next is preparing for the future. The group has been cutting store numbers and shifting from the high street to cheaper out-of-town locations, as well as renegotiating rents with “embattled landlords”. The store estate complements the online operation – “about half” of online purchases are collected in store. Online sales overtook retail for the first time last year. On an “undemanding” 13 times earnings it is a buy. 6,254p

BT Group

(Motley Fool UK) At first blush, the 48% crash in BT’s share price this year was surprising. A telecoms company might be expected to be one of the winners from prolonged social distancing. The trouble is not BT’s business model but its balance sheet. A record of overly ambitious expansion yielded falling earnings and rising net debt, currently around £18bn. Yet new management is running a “tighter ship” and analysts are “cautiously optimistic”. With the shares on a mere six times forward earnings, those who buy a small stake may be pleasantly surprised. 102p

Three to sell

JD Wetherspoon

(Interactive Investor) This pub chain is heading for a “reality check”. With the shares on more than 30 times expected earnings for the year to 28 July 2021, there is “no leeway” for things to go wrong. Investors may be betting that Wetherspoons can increase its daytime food-marketing efforts in response to the latest Covid-19 restrictions. Yet some consumers will become more cautious about eating and drinking out in case they catch the virus and need to self-isolate. With few positive catalysts on the horizon the risks are weighted to the downside. 775p

Learning Technologies

(The Times) Software specialist Learning Technologies, whose offerings include compliance tests and training programmes for companies, has reported “a recent bounce in demand, which has restored confidence in the boardroom” and it is set to pay an interim dividend. The group looks well placed for the post-pandemic world, “which will require workers to acquire new skills”, and its foray into online education looks shrewd. But on 30 times forward earnings the auspicious outlook is already in the price. Avoid. 129p

Lloyds Banking Group

(Shares) Things have “gone horribly wrong” since we tipped Lloyds bank last December. We hoped that Boris Johnson’s re-election would make for a calmer 2020, but that was not to be. A tanking domestic economy, tumbling interest rates and never-ending Brexit uncertainty are a terrible cocktail for Britain’s banks. The shares are down 60% since then and talk that rates could go negative next year only suggests that further pain is in store, so sell. 24p

...and the rest

The Daily Telegraph

Supermarket tills will be ringing with the pounds diverted from pubs and restaurants, so hold onto Supermarket Income Reit (109p)

Investors Chronicle

Aviva has disappointed of late, but the insurer boasts surplus capital and a strong brand. Buy (292p)

The Mail on Sunday

Aim-listed rare diseases specialist Amryt Pharma is making money and this summer’s listing on the Nasdaq has raised its profile in the US. Existing shareholders should maintain most of their stake, and new investors “may fancy a punt” (195p)

Shares

World-leading concrete-levelling specialist Somero Enterprises is a top-quality company, yet the shares trade on just 10.9 times earnings. Buy (260p). Music royalty investor Hipgnosis Songs Fund is expanding its catalogue and the upcoming revaluation of its assets could provide a further boost (119p). Premier Inn-owner Whitbread has axed 6,000 jobs. The business traveller market looks particularly unlikely to revive for the foreseeable future, so sell (2,070p)

The Times

Scottish broadcaster STV has been reaching more audiences during lockdown and advertising spending is improving after plunging earlier this year. It might prove a takeover target, so buy (250p). National Grid is a dependable business that pays an attractive 5.7% dividend yield (850p). Trading at paving and landscaping supplier Marshalls fell by 50% in the spring. But it has recovered sharply and the group should benefit from the shift towards DIY. Buy (645p)

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