Q4 2015: 1 New Buy And Up 18% For The Year

01 January 2016
By Maynard Paton

Happy 2016! I trust you have enjoyed a successful year’s investing and that you continue to find my Blog useful.

I’m currently celebrating my first anniversary as a full-time investor — and I must admit I am quite pleased (and relieved!) how things have turned out so far.

True, 2015 has seen some market ups and downs. I have to confess, August and September were not easy months for me. I watched my portfolio shrink as shares in general fell heavily… and I suddenly discovered what it was like not to have a regular salary to average down! I guess that was an experience I will just have to get used to.

Anyway, I’m thankful the final three months of the year saw my shares mostly recover. So finding paid employment is still not on the cards just yet :-)

This is how my portfolio has changed since the start of the year

You may already know from my previous updates (Q1, Q2 and Q3) that I publish a portfolio review after every quarter. So here is the recap of my October/November /December activity.

The table below shows how my portfolio stood at the start of the year, as well as at the end of March, June, September and December:

01 Jan 2015 (%)
31 Mar 2015 (%)
30 Jun 2015 (%)
30 Sep 2015 (%)
31 Dec 2015 (%)
Andrews Sykes3.
Burford Capital4.5----
City of London Inv13.413.312.47.66.6
Electronic Data Proc3.
French Connection9.
Mountview Estates10.610.110.910.510.1
Pennant Int5.1----
FW Thorpe6.
M Winkworth0.
World Careers Network-

Another confidential buy… for now

Look through the table above, and you will see TBA — To Be Announced.

Yes, I have acquired yet another new company for my portfolio. However, I am not going to disclose its identity just yet as I may wish to buy more of the shares. Sorry about that.

When I’ve bought enough — or the price has risen firmly into ‘fair value’ — I’ll publish a write-up explaining why I invested. Until then, I shall leave you in the dark.

In terms of portfolio activity during Q4, that small investment in this brand-new holding was the only bit of action.

Company updates from the last three months

As usual I have kept tabs on all of my existing holdings during the quarter — trying to seek out bargain buys just in case.

Here is a summary of Q4 developments:

* Satisfactory progress reported at Tristel, Mountview Estates, Castings and Mincon;

* Mixed news from Electronic Data Processing and Record; 

* Disappointing issues emerging at Getech and World Careers Network;

* Surprisingly positive news issued by French Connection, and;

* Nothing from Andrews Sykes, City of London Investment, FW Thorpe, Tasty and M Winkworth.

I’ve written a full review of all my shares in 2015 — simply click here for the complete run-down.

So that brings me on to my 2015 performance!

I always like to study my portfolio’s performance at the start of every year.

It’s just that I’m keen to discover where all my gains (and losses!) occurred during the previous twelve months, and to see whether my portfolio decisions were consistently good, bad or indifferent!

Here are my performance ground-rules:

* My year-end portfolio weightings and returns are calculated using bid prices;

* All dealing costs, withholding taxes, broker-management charges and paid dividends are included;

* Cash injected into the portfolio during the year is deemed to have a 1 January start date for performance calculations;

* My benchmark is the FTSE 100 Total Return Index (that is, the FTSE 100 index with dividends reinvested, as published by the Financial Times).

Now here’s a summary of my portfolio’s performance for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015:

YearMy PortfolioFTSE 100 TRI
Compound return158.6%29.7%

I have to say that I was pleased when I worked out my performance for 2015. Trust me, a fair bit of luck has been involved and, once again, I do not predict that level of performance to continue indefinitely!

(And as I have mentioned before, I have measured my results between 2012 and 2015 because for some years before my portfolio was almost all in cash to fund a house purchase.)

Here’s the usual long table containing all the stats

Below is a long table listing every share I owned during 2015. Alongside each holding is my portfolio’s weighting at the end of 2014 and at the end of 2015.

I’ve also shown the total return (that is, the capital gain/loss plus dividends received) each holding produced for me during the year, as well as the holding’s contribution towards my overall 18% gain.

31 Dec 2014 (%)
31 Dec 2015 (%)
Return (%)
Return (%)
Andrews Sykes3.
Burford Capital4.5-14.30.6
City of London Inv13.
Electronic Data Proc3.
French Connection9.44.8(39.1)(3.7)
Mountview Estates10.610.115.11.6
Pennant International5.1-(3.7)(0.2)
FW Thorpe6.29.685.15.3
M Winkworth0.80.711.00.1
World Careers Network-1.9(58.2)(3.3)

I hope the above table makes sense.

Just to remind you, during 2015:

* I bought four new holdings (Castings, Mincon, World Careers Network and another TBA);

* I sold three holdings entirely (Burford Capital, Pennant International and SeaEnergy);

* I trimmed three holdings (City of London Investment, Record and Tristel);

* I topped up one holding (Record), and;

* I left eight holdings untouched (Andrews Sykes, Electronic Data Processing, French Connection, Getech, Mountview Estates, Tasty, FW Thorpe and M Winkworth).

Here are a few thoughts after compiling that long table

* 13 of the 18 shares I held during the year recorded positive returns (at least for me). Eight produced double-digit returns, of which three gave me substantial (70%-plus) gains. I am satisfied with that overall consistency given the wider market’s stagnant performance.

* Some of my larger holdings at the start of 2015 were among my best performers. Of particular note are winners Tristel and FW Thorpe — my second- and fifth-largest positions twelve months ago.

* My larger holdings doing well means I am currently running a more concentrated portfolio. During 2015, the proportion invested in my top five holdings increased from 55% to 59%.

* Three shares fell heavily — French Connection, Getech and World Careers Network. Avoiding just this trio of losers would have increased my portfolio’s return from 18% to 26%.

* 12 holdings generated total portfolio returns within 2% either way of zero. Not exactly thrilling I know, but this dozen of smaller positions/winners all added up to give a near-5% portfolio return.

Here are some other stats you may find interesting

* Portfolio turnover: I can never remember how to calculate this ratio properly. But for what it is worth, during 2015 I i) sold shares equivalent to 30% and; ii) bought shares equivalent to 26% of my portfolio’s year-start value.

* Dividends collected: Company payouts represented a useful 3.19% of my portfolio’s year-start value.

* Trading costs: Dealing commissions, stamp duty and account-management fees represented an aggregate 0.23% of my portfolio’s year-start value. 

I am 90% invested in shares going into 2016

So here we go into 2016, with my current investments confirmed below:

01 Jan 2016 (%)
Andrews Sykes2.6
City of London Inv6.6
Electronic Data Proc2.7
French Connection4.8
Mountview Estates10.1
FW Thorpe9.6
M Winkworth0.7
World Careers Network1.9

As usual, I have no idea what the market will do in the next twelve months. All I can say is that the FTSE 100 index and FTSE 100 Total Return index start 2016 at 6,242 and 4,891 respectively.

However, something I have realised from writing this post is to consider re-balancing my portfolio. It is very top-heavy in certain shares that did well during 2015, and I am not so sure they will all do as well during 2016.

So… a fifth straight year of beating the market? Wish me luck!

Until next time, I wish you happy and profitable investing!

Maynard Paton

Disclosure: Maynard owns shares in Andrews Sykes, Castings, City of London Investment, Electronic Data Processing, French Connection, Getech, Mincon, Mountview Estates, Record, Tasty, FW Thorpe, Tristel, M Winkworth and World Careers Network.

13 thoughts on “Q4 2015: 1 New Buy And Up 18% For The Year”

  1. A splendid performance and you have every reason to be proud. However is it suitable to use the FTSE 100 TR as a benchmark as none of the holdings are in the FTSE 100. Comparing apples with pears?

    • Hello Ken

      Thanks for the comment. I am pleased with the performance, but just like this time last year, I am concerned I am concentrated on a handful of shares that did very well in the past 12 months… which may not do as well in the next 12 months!

      I use the FTSE 100 TRI as that is the default alternative for my investments if I had to go away etc was unable to dabble with individual shares.

      It is also the default benchmark for most investors generally, and probably the most popular index for know-nothing investors with index trackers. As such, stock-pickers ought to aim to beat the FTSE 100 TRI by a decent margin over time.

      The FTSE 100 has not been too hard to beat of late. but there will be years when the FTSE 100 trounces the SMX etc. I won’t be changing my benchmark then. Note that I did write this time last year that my benchmark was the FTSE 100 TRI, so it is not as if I have picked the index with the benefit of hindsight.

      Plus, if my portfolio does one day gravitate towards FTSE 250 shares, or overseas shares, or bonds even, should I compare my results to a complicated weighted benchmark? Keep things simple I say, which is another reason just to go for the FTSE 100 TRI.


      • Many thanks for such a detailed response and I agree KISS is much the best policy, though I think the Mid 250 is up about 9% ex dividends this year. I wish you a happy and prosperous 2016!
        Many Regards,

  2. Don’t think you’ll be able to find paid employment anyway. No personality, shit blogger and even shitter recommendations!

    Good luck. You’ll need it!

  3. Another good year Maynard – I bet the first one is pretty nervy when you’ve taken the plunge and ditched the day job!

    You have some ballsy weightings there too – I’m a big fan of Tasty and Tristel, especially after meeting Tristel’s management, so I can see why you have let those winners run until now.

    I’m also a fan of your returns calculations – new money calculated from Jan 1st is so much more simple than unitising every month!

    All the best for 2016,
    Zach (TMF)

    • Hello Zach

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, the weightings are high, but that is what can happen if your bigger bets do well. Nonetheless I am looking for decent shares to rebalance into. Hope all is well at your day job and good luck for 2016.


  4. Happy New Year Mayn,

    Excellent results, you have done well and can be rightly proud of your results.

    I’m up 9% which I’m ok with but would have liked a double digit growth

    Thanks for sharing and keep on blogging

    Best wishes


  5. Maynard,

    I have been following your blog and am very impressed with your analysis. Well done for 2015 and good luck into 2016!


  6. Keep up the good work Maynard, I’m always interested in stocks you highlight and appreciate your analysis.

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