This week’s pick of the week is Victrex (VCT), the world’s leadin manufacturer of polyketones, specifically Victrex PEEK polymer.
If investing really were about buying what you know, then this company would be about as far down my watch list as a pair of underpants on a Christmas list, but I prefer to stretch that limitation – buying what I know – to buying what I can learn about.
Europa Oil & Gas (EOG)
We’re getting used to companies divining oil in the deepest, furthest and most inaccessible of places so it’s with a chuckle I turn to Europa and its wells or prospective wells in Lincolnshire and near Reigate (among others).
Europa’s auditor is not the first I’ve seen to sign off a company’s accounts while seeking to draw people’s attention to potential funding problems1.
Despite news today that easyJet is nicking passengers from weaker and more expensive rivals in a kind of flight away from quality, I’m a bit surprised by investors’ enthusiasm for the budget airline.
Maybe there’s still a cachet to owning shares in an airli
Say you read February’s Share Sleuth article, the column I write for Money Observer magazine, which will be on Dewhurst. You like the sound of the company. You do your own research. You still like the sound of the company. Which shares do you buy?
Dewhurst is one of, I believe, a diminishing band of companies with more than one class of share. It has ordinary shares, and it has non-voting ‘A’ ordinaries.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
The flow of new annual reports for cheap companies with good profit records all but dried up this week. The nation’s board directors obviously had better things to do over Christmas. Nevertheless, the three companies that did produce reports also produced plenty to talk about.
There’s a funny story in a novel I’ve just read, ‘The Marriage Bureau for Rich People’*1. Irshad, the number one valve salesman in Southern India, complains that none of the marriage bureau’s prospects shows any interest once he’s met them.
Piotroski taught me the importance of looking at annual reports when evaluating smaller, unfashionable companies. It’s easy to shuffle glibly through doorstoppers from FTSE companies, indeed if you committed yourself to reading them thoroughly you’d probably retire before you’d read enough to invest all your money.
Happily, the size and complexity of annual reports seems to be proportional to the size and complexity of companies.
I was dismayed by words attributed to Lorna Moran in the Financial Times yesterday. Not what she said, which was already apparent to many of the former shareholders in Northern Recruitment, the company she founded. Being reminded of events last month was enough to dismay me, and perhaps, the fact that she, and the FT, should inadvertently rub our noses in it.
Despite its monumental cookers, I think the investment case for Aga (AGA) depends on something even more monumental, its defined benefit pension scheme.
Last June Aga’s pension liability was £682m, and although the scheme was in surplus, which means actuaries reckon it has more than enough assets (shares, bonds and property) to pay the pensions of all the Aga employees and former employees enrolled in it, since December that surplus had more than halved to £31m.