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Monday, January 22, 2018 - 16:45

GKN (LSE:GKN) has found it difficult to keep itself out of the headlines in recent months.

Last time I wrote about the FTSE 100 engineer was in the wake of a shock profit warning in October, the business reeling from two legal claims as well as difficult conditions over at GKN Aerospace in North America that it said would see full-year profit before tax come in "slightly" ahead of 2016's levels.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 16:10

I was as shocked as most people to hear of the demise of outsourcing and construction specialist Carillion.

Profit warnings are bad news at any time, but they're especially troubling when they come from a company with massive and rising debts. At 30 June 2017, Carillion's net debt had reached £571m, up from £291m a year previously -- and total debt topped at £1.5bn at the time of the firm's collapse.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 15:50

ITV (LSE:ITV) may have endured a year to forget in 2017 -- its share value slumping by a fifth during the 12-month period -- my belief in the investibility of the FTSE 100 giant remains undimmed.

Advertising conditions remain weak, of course, but momentum is improving. ITV itself noted in November that it's seen some fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies and grocers returning to TV advertising in recent months.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 15:35

Over the past 12 months, shares in distributor Connect Group (LSE:CNCT) have taken a beating as investors switched off from its turnaround story. 

Since mid-January 2017, the shares have fallen around 50% and it seems not even the company's market-beating 9.5% dividend yield can entice investors back. 

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 15:10

When it comes to buying into tech-focused growth stocks, today's investors are spoilt for choice. However, two stocks have performed better than most in recent years, and it looks as if this trend is set to continue. 

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 14:40

Small-cap, Iraq-focused oil producer Gulf Keystone (LSE:GKP) has a chequered past, but it's beginning to look as if the firm is moving on from its previous mistakes. 

After undergoing a momentous restructuring at the end of 2016, the company's management spent much of 2017 trying to stabilise the business. A low oil price has hampered efforts to rebuild, but now that the price has recovered to levels not seen since the end of 2014, Gulf Keystone's outlook has improved considerably. 

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 14:22

After nearly a decade in the doldrums, emerging markets are back - and with a bang!

They were the best performing asset class in 2017, according to fund manager Fidelity, closely followed by Asia Pacific equities, which to many people is the same thing.

Emerging market stocks easily beat other strong performers such as Europe and Japan, and blitzed bonds and cash.

Chasing last year's best performer can be risky but there are signs that emerging markets can do it again in 2018.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 14:10

I've made all the common investing mistakes in my time and here are just some of them.

Too greedy

Never buy soaring growth stocks that have already risen to inflated values? I've done that. Some apparently inflated valuations turn out to be cheap and the shares keep rising -- but not mine.

I made that mistake early on, in my growth investor phase. The strategy did no better than an index tracker overall, but with more heartache.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 13:40

Goals Soccer Centres (LSE:GOAL) hasn't exactly had the best of it in recent times. The soccer specialist's share price has dived by exactly two-thirds over the past year alone and if Monday's pre-close update is anything to go by, that much-awaited recovery could be a very long time coming.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 13:21

As I've remarked before, there are opportunities to be had when whole sectors or industries fall out of favour with investors - arguably more so, in fact, than when individual companies do.
When individual companies fall out of favour, it's usually for company-specific reasons, which may turn out to be more serious than first imagined.
With whole sectors, there's often less need to focus on the travails of individual companies. Instead, it's the broader picture that matters.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 13:10

Just over one year ago, I selected insurance leviathan Legal & General (LSE:LGEN) as one of my top FTSE 100 dividend buys for 2017. Twelve months later -- and taking into account the company's most recent statement -- my positive view on the stock hasn't changed.

Back in December, the £16bn cap disclosed it was heading for a "record year for earnings and profits", having seen "formidable momentum" in all its businesses in 2017 and "particularly strong growth in recent weeks".

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 12:40

Investing in a company which has no revenue and is not forecast to have any sales for a few years may sound like a poor opportunity. Making it even less attractive is the fact that it is expected to report a loss of £10m this year, followed by a further loss of £28m next year.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 12:05

The idea of buying turnaround stocks at a time when share prices are at record highs may seem rather strange. After all, the prospects for the global economy continue to improve and, with a bright outlook, many investors may prefer to buy shares which have strong growth forecasts ahead.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 11:10

Within the bull stock market of recent years, it's perhaps of little surprise that some companies are overvalued. Investor sentiment has improved dramatically, and the growth prospects of a number of businesses now appear to be fully priced in. As such, it could make sense for investors to sell those stocks in favour of shares which could offer greater upside potential.

With that in mind, here are two companies which now appear to be overvalued based on their future growth prospects.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 10:48

I think FTSE 250 company Computacenter (LSE:CCC) has a good chance of being a decent investment over the coming years if you are looking for a growing dividend and a rising share price.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 08:00

Shares in tobacco manufacturer Imperial Brands (LSE:IMB) are out of favour right now. After trading above 4,100p shortly after the Brexit vote, the stock has now fallen to around 3,000p today. That's a decline of nearly 30%.

Why the fall? Well, there have been several drivers. One was the FDA's announcement in July that it wants to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes. More recently, the CEO of larger rival Japan Tobacco stubbed out talk of a potential acquisition.

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 11:06

Ups and downs are part and parcel of investing in the stock market and ace investor Neil Woodford suffered a torrid 2017. A number of his biggest holdings crashed, some of his small speculative stocks went under, and several of the companies he's backed came under attack from bearish analysts, including short-sellers.

Of course, it just goes to show that even a veteran investor with an enviable long-term record of outperforming the market can go through difficult spells and make some poor stock choices. Today, I'm looking at one Woodford stock I'd buy, and one I'd sell.

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 10:30

A common misapprehension made by those new to investing is that they need to have a sizeable amount of cash in order to begin their stock market journey. Not so.

Setting aside as little as £25 a month -- roughly the same amount you might spend on two tickets to the cinema or perhaps a round of drinks at a pub -- is sufficient for getting started. 

Having decided what sacrifices you can make, here's what you need to do next.

1: Open a stocks and shares ISA

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 10:00

We all know that past performance is not a guide to future performance. But when investing in stocks, I believe that a company's history can tell us a quite lot about what its future might be like.

That's especially true for mature businesses such as chemicals group Johnson Matthey (LSE:JMAT). This 200 year-old firm's main activity today is making catalytic converters for vehicles. It wasn't always this way, and no doubt it will change again in the future. For example, the group is currently investing in battery technology.

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 09:30

In case you've been living in Tibet for the last 13 years, or you're simply fed up with the drivel served up on television these days and stopped watching altogether (in which case I salute you), Dragons' Den is always an option. It's a BBC TV series that allows budding entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to five multi-millionaires, or 'Dragons', in the hope of securing an investment.