This journal logs investment transactions made in the portfolio. Hopefully it will help me be more rigorous/honest with myself.


  • Closing Logitech. Slight change of strategy – I was reinvesting CHF dividends from my main two swiss holdings into Logitech but now Complexity wins, and I’m divesting this holding. This harvests a small capital loss too.


  • Margin increase: BHMG.
  • Sell SHOP. Well well. Selling one of the knives I caught, for a profit.
  • Sell AMZN, GOOG. Small profit taking via limit orders which filled surprisingly ($116 on AMZN!) on an out-of-hours price blip as the earnings release came out.


  • Sell META. A limit order filled, at $151. Cutting my losses, having recovered somewhat.
  • Various administrative swaps – e.g. from VGOV to IGLT – see upcoming blog post.
  • Buy ULVR. Redeploying some HSV capital. I’m looking to upweight a branded consumer dividend payer. Choosing between DGE and ULVR I prefer ULVR. I can’t shake the observation that many people I know are cutting back on alcohol consumption, and while I know there is growth opportunity for DGE and strong competitive moats I think ULVR is safer.
  • Buy GOOG. Redeploying some HSV capital. I’m underweight US Equities. GOOG has reasonable growth momentum and a P/E of 18.
  • Close HSV. Homeserve has been taken private, at £12/share. I’m not thrilled – I saw this business as a genuine UK leader and run by a capable entrepreneur to boot. But I’m happy to take some liquidity and redeploy right now.
  • Sell ADS. I am trimming my position, cutting my losses. This stock has ticked up to €140 from a low of under €100 so there is good news but my average price is over €200 so I am not really seeing it that way! In the short term performance will be a problem after the Kanye West debacle. I’ll sit this one out. It helps that I am overweight Intl Equities.


  • Sell MEUD. With USA dipping, I am overweight Intl Equities. I am selling this holding to rebalance.
  • Buy IGLT. Rebalancing out of Intl Equities.
  • Buy META. More tiny topups as per Nov.
  • Buy BWSA. I am a tiny bit underweight on UK Fixed Income and am reinvesting dividends/coupons into some of my high yield bonds.


  • Buy META. I think Facebook is oversold. It still has Zuck running it, even tho Sheryl arguably should be running it. It has more control over its profits than most – it could just suspend R&D. And it is on 11x P/E.
  • Buy DIS. Feels oversold at $90.
  • Buy AMZN. I’m going in…. topping up this big holding, also at $90.
  • Sell JPM. I know higher rates are good here but it’s a bank, and not looking as well run as it is famous for. I’m taking some profits.
  • Buy ADS. I think this is oversold too. Decent brand and generally well run, on 3.x% divi yield.
  • Sell VAS. I am a tiny bit overweight Oz equities so am rotating out of this to fund the ‘buying oversold’ plays listed above.


  • Sell BGS. As an active fund (boo tss) focusing on Japan (where there is an argument for active mgmt, but which is struggling in ways I don’t understand), I’m not sure this fits in my strategy very well. And it’s done poorly. And I’m overweight on International Equities. So I’m closing my position.
  • Buy ADS. Minor topup nibble to reduce my avg in-price, and take advantage of >3% yield – buying a Kanye-West dip.
  • Buy various T-bills/gilts. I’m branching out – tempted by the 4-5% yields guaranteed (in local currency, at least) for 20+ years – into actual bonds.
  • Buy SHOP. A longstanding limit order just filled. Which reflects this stock hitting record lows. I am overweight US Equities so don’t entirely need this extra holding but there we go.
  • Sell INXG. Reflecting more on the carnage affecting INXG, and the time-limited nature of the BoE’s support, I am alarmed to realise that INXG is my biggest bond holding by far – and I have quite a bit of GILI too. Given that it is manifestly failing to do what it is supposed to, I am taking advantage of the 30% price spike since its low last week to rotate out of it and into IGLT/similar instead. I bought (a bit) last week at around £11 and sold (a lot more) today at £14.70.
  • Buy IGLT. As above. A point to note – IGLT has over £1.1bn of AUM, whereas VGOV has only £127m. Only comparable ETF for scale is GILS which is around half the size at £670m.


  • Buy LGEN. I am treating L&G as something of a bond proxy at the moment. Good dividends – an equity exposure with high yields that suits tax-sheltered accounts quite well. No growth prospects per se but something of a play on ‘UK plc’ which I think is oversold right now.
  • Buy INXG. Nervewracking. This is a rebalancing buy, but one finds oneself asking whether UK Gilts are trustworthy or might explode. Crazy times.
  • Buy DOM. Feels cheap, even without a CEO.
  • Buy BWSA. Topping up on UK Fixed Income – but I do want some yield!


  • Buy ALU. I am underweight UK equities. This smallcap UK manufacturing business is very illiquid but appears to be good value. I’m topping up, as much as the liquidity allows me to.
  • Buy DOM. Domino’s pizza is approaching multi year lows. It has a decent growth model – despite rivals – and is suffering from a CEO transition. I think it’s close enough to being a ‘ham sandwich’ business so I’m topping up.
  • Sell MMM. I have a venture capital investment which needs funds – and I don’t want to use ‘borrowed money’ for this so I am selling down existing liquid holdings to fund this. With current exposure being 2% overweight into US Equities, I’m selling one of them – in this case some MMM; even though MMM feels quite good value at the moment, I have more 5 year confidence in my tech holdings / other USA holdings.


  • Buy ALU. Illiquid smallcap stock, potentially oversold. P/E of 5.5, divi yield of 7%+, and reasonable top line growth.
  • Sell VAPX. Trimming position slightly to rotate into a UK Equity – ALU
  • Sell LCWL. This holding is (simplistically) categorised as USA Equities. And after a day of +4% equity markets, I am overweight equities – particularly USA Equities. I’m continuing to rotate out, moving to my underweight fixed income instead.
  • Buy INXG. Topping up UK Fixed Income, as a rotation away from USA Equities.
  • Buy VEMT. Topping up International Fixed Income.
  • Buy LGEN. I am trying to top up Fixed Income, in a Fidelity ISA. Fidelity doesn’t have any Fixed Income funds that I like and won’t let me buy bonds direct. So I’m cheating, and going for LGEN – which has a large, pretty solid dividend (esp in a tax-free ISA), and a share price that rarely goes anywhere. It isn’t helping my allocation but it will do the trick.
  • Sell DOCU. What a roller coaster ride. But I’m out. Rotating out of USA equities, not profitable / dividend paying.
  • Buy MDM. Rotating into International Equities, profitable, 6% divi yield, down on its luck.
  • Buy DOM. Buying opportunity as CEO has been poached, but I suspect the biz will trade fine nonetheless. Dividends (3.7%) too, yum yum.


  • Sell ESTC. I’m closing this position. I had a good ride but now when I am a bit overweight USA Equities, I am derisking and rotating into safer /less volatile stocks.
  • Buy ULVR. As above – a safer/less volatile stock than ESTC. With a 3.6% divi yield too!
  • Sell SPXD. Reducing US equities exposure.
  • Buy XAUS. Increasing Aus equities exposure.
  • Buy DOM. A limit order just filled – topping up a long term hold. Dominos continues to have reasonable growth (despite loss making competitors Deliveroo etc) and margins and pays a reasonable dividend yield.
  • Sell HUBS. I’m closing out this position, as part of an effort to rebalance from US Equities into Australia / UK Equities. This stock is too volatile for my leveraged appetites right now, and as a loss-making tech stock it is likely to remain so.
  • Buy HL. topping up an ISA holding – now that the divi yield is approaching 5%, this biz is starting to look like it might be near the bottom. A market leader with a good moat, the best platform in its space, and a commitment to invest more in technology.
  • Sell EQQQ. I’m selling a NASDAQ tracker in my ISA. Because I’m long USA equities, and this holding is more volatile than most. I’m recycling into UK fixed income.
  • Buy BWSA. More topping up of UK Fixed Income.
  • Buy NTEA. More topping up of UK Fixed Income.
  • Buy LLPC. More topping up of UK Fixed Income.


  • Buy BWSA. Topping up UK Fixed Income – a B&W preferred note.
  • Buy NTEA. Topping up UK Fixed Income – a Northern Electric (part of Berkshire Hathaway, I think I just learnt) preferred note.
  • Buy SHOP. On a dip. >20% revenue growth continues.
  • Buy FB/META. On a dip. P/E of 15, revenue growth still >10% p.a..
  • Buy AMZN. On a dip. $90bn of top line growth expected next year.
  • Buy ADS. On a dip.
  • Sell IBKR. To rotate into a couple of dips. I’m closing this small position.


  • Buy LOGN. Opening a new position (!) – in a Swiss growth stock (I think). This is reinvesting income from my Swiss holdings. I hold Swiss holdings as a substitute for holding Swiss francs. But looking at LOGN’s P/E multiple (15) and growth momentum (profits 5x in 3 years) this feels like a reasonable buy at the moment.
  • Buy HL. Averaging my cost price down – with this market leader down 30% from when I first invested. I see the business as relatively inflation-proof and with hard-to-attack market leading advantages.
  • Buy PSN. Recycling this housebuilder’s copious dividend back into the same stock.
  • Buy SUPP. Buying this bombed out Woodford fund on a dip (back a long way) – averaging down my holding. Small sums involved – for a holding that remains small in value. My thinking being I won’t notice a drop in value of 25% but stand a chance to turn a loss into a profit if the price goes up by 50%.


  • Sell CMCSA. I have held Comcast for a few years – thinking of it as a well run dependable inflation-proof stock. However now I am overweight US equities, a bit cynical about cable/pay TV in the USA in a world of cord cutting, and ready to deploy into some underweight categories. I’ve exited my position.
  • Buy DOM. I’m underweight UK equities and think Dominos is a reasonable buy below £4/share. It has growth, has a good value/low price point that should fare well in inflationary times, and its rivals are going to find inflation bites them. I’m topping up.
  • Buy AGG. I can’t believe I was overweight USA fixed income earlier this month – how the markets have swung – I am now underweight USA fixed income and am topping up.
  • Sell BRK.B. Much as I love Berkshire Hathaway, and much as it is now outperforming tech stocks over 3 years, I have rather a lot of it, I am long USA equities (which BRK is an almost perfect proxy for), and I need to redeem something to invest in an illiquid thing. So I’m trimming my BRK position.
  • Buy SHOP. A limit order filled, topping up this fairly young position.
  • Buy MMM. A blue chip stock, and a dividend champion, just down to its (almost) record dividend yield. Almost safe as houses.
  • Sell DIS. Trimming this position, to pay for MMM. I’m not sure how much sport/disney+ will be watched with a war on, and Disney has suspended its dividend.
  • Sold AGG. Tiny trim, to pay for IBKR. Am overweight USA fixed income so this is a mild rebalance.
  • Buy IBKR. Another long term limit order filled, re-entering a position I closed recently after quite a while. IBKR has been fairly range bound. But it isn’t properly cheap yet. Annoyingly I am now a bit overweight on USA Equities, and the fill was in my most leveraged account. But I am reluctant to sell anything at the moment to rebalance.


  • Buy SCS. This smallcap (£100m) sofa retailer is back where it was in 2018, even though revenues are 20%+ higher. It has >6% divi yield and I think some prospects of continued growth. On a P/E of 8. I think it is good value.
  • Buy ULVR. Partial recycling of ABB1 into ULVR, which press comment seems to think is undervalued and I am inclined to agree – especially in a high inflation environment.
  • Recycling UK Bond allocation from ABB1 (compulsorily redeemed, boo tss) into similar high yield instruments, in my SIPP.
    • Buy BWSA.
    • Buy NTEA.
  • Sell GOOG. I have just sold 10 Google shares, via a limit order tripping. This has happened because Google has just clipped upwards – resulting in Google overtaking Amazon as my largest holding, after many years of threatening to do this – and given my overweight US posture I had the limit order in place just in case.


  • Sell DIS. I generally love Disney, and the stock has done OK for me. However I am long USA, stubbornly so, and need something to reduce my exposure to. I don’t know Disney well at the moment but suspect that cruises / theme parks / etc are not going to have a good few years, and the streaming bunfight is not value creating for any participants. I’m trimming my position.
  • Sell QCOM. I am still overweight USA. I need something to sell. My tech subset feels too large, still, so I’m closing out a blue chip stock that has kept its value but I don’t follow closely.
  • Buy ESTC. This database business has been hammered by the spec tech correction. I’m topping up.
  • Buy SHOP. I’ve had Shopify on my watch list for some time now. I set up a limit order about a month ago and it has just filled.
  • Sell VZ. I’m overweight US equities right now. Which is principally because of my Tech holdings. But I like my Tech holdings! I’m closing the Verizon position, which has been a lacklustre holding for some years now. Reasonable dividend yield, no cap growth – would be better suited to the UK FTSE !
  • Buy ABD – Aberdeen New Dawn. I am struggling with my Asia / EM exposure. I am underweight International (a mixture of Europe and Asia/Pac/Emerging). Within International, Europe has done very well recently, but A/P has stagnated. This leaves A/P as something I want to top up into. I don’t buy direct in these markets – I want a fund manager/etf. But my current holdings disappoint. I am rotating out of HFEL Henderson Far East Income and into a fund a friend has recommend (so village, I know) Aberdeen New Dawn.
  • Sell HFEL.


  • Sell BKG. I’ve had Berkeley homes for a long time, without strong conviction. I generally liked the housebuilders for dividends / good value, and when I pruned the portfolio a year or so ago somehow Berkeley survived the cull. Since then its charismatic CEO has passed away and I don’t have a clear reason to continue to hold. Plus I’m a bit overweight on UK equities. So I’m closing my position.
  • Buy ADS. A limit order has just tripped – so I am topping up a little bit in this long term hold. Helping me get back to target allocation on International Equities.
  • Buy DIS – which has dipped to $147. I am a long term believer in this so am topping up.
  • Buy MDM. I am rebalancing a little (see upcoming blog post) towards ‘International’, and Maisons Du Monde is a stock I have a certain amount of time for. It is cheap versus other country peers. And homewares is a sector that has been doing well in Zoom world and I suspect will continue to do well.
  • Sell AHT. Reducing position mildly. Taking profits. Rebalancing a little out of UK (as per upcoming blog post).
  • Sell EXPN. Perennial disappointment stock; my original investment thesis hasn’t come home to roost (yet?); rebalancing slightly from UK. Reducing position.
  • Buy DOCU. Though I am overweight in USA, Docusign has dropped a lot. It is now on a lower revenue multiple than when I entered the position in 2018, so I am topping up a tiny bit.



  • Buy DOM. Buying on a dip. This stock is the plucky little eat-out-stock-that-can – a growth stock, with good margins, beseiged by irrational unprofitable rivals (Just Eat, Deliveroo, Uber Eats).
  • Buy ALU. Small topup, triggered by a limit order on a price correction. Share price has doubled over 12-18 months, but profit recovery justifies that. Very illiquid microcap stock so limit orders only practical way to trade.


  • Buy PEP. I have a longstanding limit order which has just popped. No enthusiasm for buying this but I see it as a broadly diversified long term solid performer.
  • Buy ADBE. A limit order popped, to top up this core holding. I chuckle here because my broker has been asking for ages ‘do you want to adjust the limit price upwards?’ and I’ve just held course.
  • Sell DOCU. Unusually for me, I had a Stop loss set up for DOCUsign. This just triggered, with Docusign down 12% in the last week, which halved my position. It is only back to June prices, so far from a rout. If it falls the same amount again, it’s back to 12 month ago prices – at which point I might just about consider buying back in.


I just re-read Monevator’s “best buy” list, and his piece about Lyxor ETFs. His Lyxor piece’s scaremongering about UK Reporting status is somewhat out of date (as he himself flags) about UK Reporting Status, thankfully. I have decided to rotate some iShares/Vanguard ETFs into their Lyxor Equivalents, mainly to spread my ETF load more evenly – but also to trim fees.

  • Buy LCUK / Sell ISF.
  • Buy LCWL / Sell VWRL.
  • Buy GILI / Sell INXG.
  • Buy ADBE. 43x earnings. Great growth. Hard to see who takes it on.
  • Buy FB. 26x earnings. And good growth. Know anything better value?


  • Buy BWSA. Having been (voluntarily, admittedly) ‘exited’ from NWBD, I am looking to recycle the proceeds into some other form of ‘predictable, high yield bond-like security’. Perusing Fixed Income Investor’s list and doing my own research I have settled on this building society preference share.
  • Buy PEP. Even as I write this I am struggling to explain why I am topping up my small PEP holding. This is a holding I have been tempted to liquidate in the Great Complexity Purge. However for one reason or another it is clinging on in my portfolio. It is a 4th quartile size however. And it is in a subaccount with only a few holdings in it. Which for random reasons now has some surplus $ in it. I want to use those $. My ETFs are all GBP traded. That leaves me choosing between PEP, DIS, BRK and a couple of others. I’m showing PEP some love. Perhaps if it is a bigger holding I won’t notice it so much….
  • Buy HSV. I have a hunch that Homeserve is that rare thing – a decent business in the FTSE-100. And a Buy opportunity. It has reasonable top line growth momentum – albeit profits took a knock in the lockdown – and strong mgmt. It’s a below median holding for me. At a P/E of 19. I’m topping up.


  • Sell NWBD. Natwest’s cumulative preference shares, paying out nominal yield of 9%, have been a longstanding holding of mine. I learnt about them from Monevator when they cost about £1.20/share (yielding over 7%). Since then they have risen to over £1.50/share. Now there is a tender offer at £1.75/share. I’ve decided to take profits, closing out my holding (tho Mrs FvL still has some).
  • Buy INXG/IGLT. My portfolio is reaching record highs. But that leaves me continually slightly underweight on fixed income. I am topping up a five figure sum, taking a bit of extra leverage to do so.
  • Buy SAUS. I am underweight, a bit, and topping up.
  • Buy HSV. Buying on a dip. Profits for this year are down but brokers estimates suggest longer term momentum unaffected.
  • Sell DGE. My Ltd company/PIC is a tiny bit overleveraged, for various reasons. I’m a tiny bit overweight UK equities. Diageo has recovered to 2019 levels (£34/share). I don’t have a clear investment thesis for it – it was a safe dependable FMCG stock, but in a post Brexit world I don’t see double digit growth and think I’m as happy not owning it as owning it. I’ve closed my position. If it dips below £31 I would probably get back in.


No material trades this month.


The markets have been on a tear this month. I have generally been left underweight Fixed Income, in all geographies, and International Equities.

  • Buy INXG. In general I perceive inflation to be on the rise. Inflation is bad for bonds. But not so much for index-linked bonds. The UK is good on these. I have a significant six figure exposure to this ETF but am still growing it.
  • Buy Vanguard UK Long Dated Gilts. This fund is almost like a leveraged bond fund. Ouch. So it has taken the biggest walloping in the last two months, and feels like a sensible thing to buy for uncorrelated UK fixed income exposure.
  • Buy ASX:VGB. Very slightly underweight. I’m topping up with a nibble.

March 2021

  • Buy BGS. I am underweight International Equities. This Baillie Gifford Nippon fund is a fairly new holding, and is down 15% on my entry price. Time to top up.
  • Buy EXPN. Experian is a long term holding of mine. It is a market leading credit score brand, with strong network effects – albeit also quite a few tough challengers. Its price is ‘back two years’, even though the business is (just about) growing steadily. I imagine that credit scoring becomes extra valuable in a world of furlough, unemployment spiking, etc. I’m topping up.

February 2021

  • Buy Invesco Perpetual Pacific Fund. I am a little bit underweight on Intl Equities. This is an area I am now shying away from direct holdings, and committing to a few funds/etfs. My Pacific fund is one of them and could do with bulking up. I’m adding to my position.
  • Buy Santander perpetual bond/pref share. I have a few banking/similar high yield bonds, now all in tax sheltered accounts. As I’m underweight UK fixed income, I’m reinvesting dividends/coupons.

January 2021

  • Buy FB. Can’t quite believe it has a P/E of 25, given 40% compound growth rates in both revs and profits. Yes it is screwing up Whatsapp but P/E of 25 suggests value.

December 2020

  • Close DAImler. I have been a fairly long term holder of Mercedes. I like top brands. It has a reasonable dividend yield. It is fairly diversified. But I find myself slightly overweight International Equities, and realising that I can’t tell you exactly what Daimler’s stance versus Tesla is – their electric vehicle push seems late to put it mildly. Are cars going to become the next energy sector – taken for granted by EU regulators and leaving shareholders neglected and suffering? I don’t follow them closely enough. So it’s time to get out.
  • Sell XRO. Taking a tiny top slice off this, to make a charity donation with. I am overweight Aus still.
  • Buy HEIO. A limit order for Heineken has just triggered, so I have topped up this (still small) holding a little. I remain underweight ‘international equities’.
  • Sell ASX:IOZ. I have something of a rump holding here – kept partly because it is not MIFID and thus hard to trade. But I’m overweight Aus and think it’s time to clean this rump up. Leaving my Aus ETF exposure now more MIFID-y.
  • Sell SAUS. I have found myself a bit overweight on Aus equities, thanks in no small part to my XRO holding having almost doubled in the last 12 months, so I am trimming. By selling the index, for better or for worse.
  • Buy GILS. I am underweight UK fixed income, so am topping up an existing (small) Lyxor UK Gilts holding.

November 2020

  • Buy ROche. I have some CHF burning a hole in my wallet. Time to redeploy into a safe, long term Swiss stock. Last time I did this, 10 years ago, was Nestle – which has doubled since. I want a different sector. Pharma, perhaps? Roche slightly cheaper than Novartis, with ~3% yield. Let’s try that.
  • Buy INXG. I have some much-appreciated dividends to deploy. And am underweight on UK fixed income.
  • Sell RDSB. I have held Shell largely thanks to its dividend yield / bluechip nature, in the face of ESG concerns and the slumping oil price. Since it cut its dividend, for the first time in 50+ years, earlier this year it has been on my Sell list. I’ve now closed my position.
  • Buy HEIO. I am underweight International Equities. Heineken has been on my watchlist for a while – thanks to Ian Cowie and Nick Train – and I have taken the opportunity to open a position, at close to €70/share. I value its global brands, dividend track record, and continental European base.
  • Buy MKC. I am a bit underweight USA and tho the price seems high, MKC has been one of my tiddler holdings for a while – I’m biting the bullet to top it up.
  • Buy PEP. As per MKC.

October 2020

  • Buy HUBS. I know a guy who uses Hubspot at work, and he is absolutely raving about it. I’ve opened a position. And then, with the correction at the end of the month, a limit order triggered – almost doubling my opening position.
  • Buy BABA. I own a bit of Alibaba. P/E of under 30. More or less unaffected by Brexit, US election (unless USA chucks it off NASDAQ…?). I’m underweight International Equities and this feels like a sensible place to top up.
  • Buy ADS. Topping up on International Equities, this global brand based in Germany feels like a reasonably safe place to park some funds. And in a world where exercise/outdoors is more important than ever, Adidas has the winds at its back.
  • Sell PRU. I have liked/admired the Prudential brand. But in reality, active asset management, based in London, focused on Asia, isn’t feeling like the right place to be.
  • Sell DGE. I’m trimming my ‘UK’ exposure at the moment. Diageo feels like it is in the cross hairs of trade wars / tax rises. I’m reducing exposure a notch.

September 2020

  • Sell VUCP. As per VCSH below – rotating from USD/Fixed Income into Intl/Fixed Income.
  • Buy VEMT. As per VCSH below – rotating from USD/Fixed Income into Intl/Fixed Income.
  • Sell VCSH. I am a tiny bit overweight on USA/Fixed Income. And Interactive Brokers is sabre rattling about increasing margin requirements. So I am doing a tiny trim of a USA/Fixed Income position.

August 2020

  • Sell WFC. I have been a long term holder of WFC, seeing it and JPM as two ‘blue chip banks’. I have held on to WFC even after their fraud/selling scandal. I have held on to WFC even as their share price halved this year, along with other banks e.g. HSBC. However now they have cut their dividend by 80%, and Warren Buffett has been selling, I am closing out the holding inside my Dividend Growth Portfolio – one of my almost-rules for the DGP is any cut/cancellation of the dividend triggers removing the offending holding from that portfolio.
  • Buy BABA. Alibaba has lost relative ground to AMZN. I am underweight in it. Time to nibble a bit more.
  • Buy DOM. The UK Dominos business seems like a rare growth stock in the UK, especially in a world of ordering more takeaway food. On the negative side, it has a bunch of competitive and irrationally-well financed competitors. I am buying (a tiny bit – I am slightly overweight in UK equities) when <£3.20.
  • Buy LLPC, 87PN, PMO1 (very bravely). I am still underweight fixed income in all my geographies. I have a weakness for these UK listed high yielding corporate bonds, especially when dividend income has been slashed.
  • Buy INXG, VUTY, VEMT, VCSH, ASX: VGB. Topping up my fixed income holdings across all geographies, across my core ETFs.
  • Buy Schroder Asian Income Maximiser, Henderson Asian Dividend Income. Two ‘international / income’ holdings that remain reliable on the income front. I’m topping up.
  • Close RTN. This stock has been a bugger’s muddle of an investment. I just set a limit price sell at 59p, and IB closed the position at 50p! An ignominious end to an ignominious investment.
  • Close AIRd. I bought Airbus just before the pandemic really took hold (or, more correctly, before I noticed it). This was a poorly timed investment, to put it mildly. I’m closing it out.

July 2020

  • Sell TW, the UK housebuilder. I have had a ‘runt’ holding here, below my £20k ‘minimum’, and have been trying to decide what to do with it. But I find myself overweight UK, and have heard some colour about the leadership that doesn’t make me a proud shareholder. I’m out.
  • Buy ITX, the owner of Zara and other top apparel brands. Another ‘runt’ holding, which I have wavered on whether to clear out (retail -> yuk; disappointing results/dividends; no clear share price momentum) or build a position (great brand; long term entrepreneur holder; not that expensive). I’ve decided to build a position, and have just doubled my stake.

June 2020

ESG is flavour of the month, and has had me digging. I’ve only just noticed that an ESG version of Vanguard’s VWRL, iShare’s SUWS, is in fact even cheaper (20bps) than VWRL (22bps). I’ve swapped half of a VWRL holding for SUWS so I can keep tabs on how the two compare.

Allocation-wise, I have remained significantly underweight (2-3%) equities, and am deliberately not doing anything about it. I feel the market may give way at any moment, and I have plenty enough equity exposure on the upside.

I have also been a bit underweight (1-2%) bonds, and trying to top up into them, in all geographies:

  • Buy VEMT. Emerging Treasuries.
  • Buy L&G Emerging Markets Govt Bond Index.
  • Buy LLPC, NWBD, 87PN, NTEA – various UK corporate bonds/similar yielding about 6%. This sort of predictable income is too tempting to resist at the moment, especially when it is tax-free in my ISAs/SIPPs.
  • Buy AGG, BND (non UCITS ETFs – glad I have found a way to buy them at last!).
  • Buy VUTY – the UCITS way to buy US treasuries.

May 2020

May felt very benign, as stock markets slowly recovered some of their March losses. I felt like the monster remains just out of sight below the surface though, and didn’t do much.

I did however top up a little bit on some of the best tech holdings, even Amazon and Microsoft despite being at record prices.

I closed out INF and AViva, which were both small positions I had been indecisive about. Different reasons, both.

I was slightly underweight in fixed income so any spare cash (not much of it available these days) was mostly spent on topping up fixed income – VUTY, NTEA, and NWBD in particular.

April 2020

The market has kicked off the month heading down, as wise heads in the US say we haven’t seen the size of the US problems yet.

  • Buy ESTC. Opening a position in this cloud software platform, after hearing about it from a techie friend.
  • Buy ALU. Topping up, at <70p a share, to bring down my average price (!) and noting that two NED/similar have just bought at this price.
  • Buy LGEN. They confirmed they are going to pay their ~13p dividend. At <£2.00/share, this makes them a Buy for me.
  • Buy SN. I’ve opened a position in this UK pharma/medical business last year, but it has remained fairly expensive. Until recently. I think medical/health businesses are all quite well positioned at the moment and its share price has fallen (a bit, not a lot) so I’m topping up.
  • Buy ADBE. Limit order just triggered. This business is hurting as freelancers/etc are hurting, but it’s a digital businss not fully impacted by lockdowns. And it remains strategically very strong. I’m buying at what feels like a good price, but in fact is a price it reached only 12 months ago.
  • Buy HSBA. The BoE has strong-armed UK-based banks into shelving their dividends. HSBC’s (hong kong-dominated, allegedly) investors have marked it down 20% in protest. This feels oversold; it is one thing to sell when a company cancels divi of its own volition; quite another when company *wants* to pay divi but regulator won’t let it. Regulator worried about market stress in UK, which is relatively small beer for HSBC. Now is the time for HSBC to shine. I’m topping up (v modestly), despite my longstanding misgivings on ‘playing with banks’.

March 2020

Last couple of days of March. Markets wobbling but not moving.

  • Buy RDSB. Shell has just borrowed $12bn, increasing liquidity to $40bn. It looks like its dividend (£1.88, 11% yield) is going to be paid.

Last full week of March. Feels like Trump (“don’t let cure be worse than the problem”) may have provided support for S&P and FTSE-100 (at about 5000). I have bitten bullet to become an Elective Professional with my Personal Investment Company, removing retail protections, and allowing me to buy some ETFs that are not MIFID friendly.

  • Buy LGEN. Feels cheap, no? I am worried about a ‘run’ but they have £400bn+ assets and market cap of 1% of that. Strong trusted brand. I’m topping up.
  • Buy ASX: VGB. A non-MIFID ETF that I want to top up on.
  • Buy ASX: VSO. A non-MIFID ETF that I am topping up on. Small-cap, which must be risky, but I assume that is priced in.
  • Sold VAPX. Rebalancing trade.

Yikes. UK now moving into lockdown- schools to be closing from Friday. I find myself overweight US equities (and bonds), and overmargined – not a great place to be. Slowly fixing:

  • Sell VUSA. Reducing exposure to US. [Warning: market timing?!] I don’t think US has seen its bottom yet.
  • Close SKT. Outlet mall real estate. I suspect visits to these will be banned soon.
  • Sell H50E/VAPX. Reducing slightly overweight exposure to International Equities, via cuts in a Eurozone ETF and Asia/Pac ETF.
  • Sell ITX. Inditext, owner of Zara, makes me nervous – especially with its short supply chains.
  • Sell DOCU. I don’t like selling this (it’s well-positioned for WFH ) but I am overweight and it is not profitable enough to keep me calm.
  • Sold MMM. I need to sell something, even this blue chip stock.
  • Bought PSN. I am underweight UK and believe Persimmon is a) selling houses – which will continue b) cash rich c) reasonably well governed d) dividend friendly.
  • Close CSCO. This has been on my sell list for ages – in fact I have had a limit order in at $49 (hah!). I hear internet traffic is up a lot in Italy which must help CSCO, but they are capital spend which will be an early casualty too. I’m bailing.
  • Close BKNG. This is painful, as I think it is darned cheap – but with travel so hard hit this could get worse.
  • Sell TGT. Retailers can’t be the best thing to have.
  • Sell IUSA.
  • Sell AMZN. Just 10 shares. I *hate* selling Amazon, which long term will be fine, but it has held up well and is my biggest individual holding.
  • Sell JPM. Just a few shares. I hate selling this blue chip stock too, esp when it is 40% down. But banks feel risky and I have a big position here.
  • Sell BLK. I think Blackrock is a winner, but it is an AUM-driven business and AUMs are clearly down – and could go lower. I’m reducing my exposure.
  • Sell VZ. This must be one of the survivors. But I am looking for things to trim and it counts.
  • Sell QCOM. This ought to be a survivor too. But I need to trim something and this one isn’t food and it isn’t Amazon!
  • Sell PFF. A legacy non-MIFID holding that was, in theory, supposed to be a high yield fixed income play. I haven’t liked it for ages but I can’t ever buy more (under MIFID) so selling is a non-trivial decision. We’ve reached that point – I’m reducing.
  • Sell JNK. As per PFF above, at least as far as MIFID is concerned.

Now in 3rd week of March. Many countries shutting down, but not yet the UK. After a Friday 9%+ S&P bump, we are back in correction territory. Trading platforms are showing straint. I am overweight bonds and underweight equities, and gently rebalancing.

  • Sell RSAB. Rebalancing out of direct bonds.
  • Sell ABB1. A Santander high yield bond. Rebalancing out of such things.
  • Buy ISF/CTY. Rebalancing into UK Equities, esp when FTSE is <5000.

The ‘corona virus correction’ is now a full-on ‘covid-19 market meltdown’. Yet, as I write this in 2nd week of March, bonds are firmly up. I’m nibbling away at rebalancing, trying to avoid getting too hurt by falling knives.

‘Oil price crash’ week

  • Buy XAUS/SAUS. Rebalancing towards Oz equities (which have been brutally pumelled – especially BHP Billiton, which I hold).
  • Buy MIDD. Rebalancing from UK bonds to UK (mid cap) equities.
  • Sell ISXF. As per SLXX below.
  • Sell SLXX. Rebalancing out of bonds, slightly, starting with corporate bonds.
  • Buy EXPN. Digital / information business, famous for credit scoring. Distress heightens need for credit scoring, no?
  • Buy RMV. I can’t really see how a market meltdown – that so far at least isn’t hurting the property market – can affect Rightmove. Can it?
  • Buy GOOG. A big holding of mine, but I’m topping up (slightly); it’s a digital-only biz, one of the world’s top N brands, and as much in need during pandemics as ever.
  • Buy ADBE. Digital only business – increasingly subscription – hard to see how it is affected by market meltdown.
  • Buy GOOG. Digital only business. On sale.
  • Buy JPM. Definite falling knife risk. Jamie Dimon in hospital/etc. Yikes. But this bluest chip of banks must be bigger than Dimon, no?
  • Buy WFC. Definitely a falling knife. Two directors out, the misselling scandal rumbles on. But this is a quality franchise and Buffett is in the wings. 6% divi yield. Too tempting to ignore.

Corona virus correction continues. I need to rebalance towards UK equities. So I did:

  • Buy INForma. Information (and exhibitions – doh!) business. Multinational . Rare UK leader.
  • Buy RDSB. Shell, at £15. Sounds cheap. I know it’s possibly a ‘stranded asset’ but it is well managed with a good dividend.

February 2020

‘Corona virus correction’ (as it was then) trades

  • Buy DISney. Massive brands. On sale.
  • Buy MSFT. Just a nibble. It’s still expensive.
  • Buy ADS. Brand. Reduced.
  • Buy HL. Dominant player. On sale.

I am roughly in balance with my target allocation right now, which lets me nibble a bit more freely.

  • Sell DAImler Benz. I have held the two leading German car brands for some time – thinking they have a low multiple for such revered brands, and that the brand will win vs the Tesla disruption. One of these holdings is in a Dividend Growth Portfolio (DGP). Mercedes has just announced a drastic dividend cut – which, as one of my DGP rules, means I am now closing the position.
  • Sell CCL. I’m closing this position, as part of my simplifying exercise. Global leader this may be, and cruises must be a long term growth industry. However the scaleability of the model is not great, competition is intense, and CoronaVirus/etc illustrates the negative sentiments that can arise.
  • Buy WFC. This bluechip bank has been under heavyweather for years, including a long spell on the naughty step for faking new customers. New CEO recently, but share price remains low – leaving its dividend yield near all-time highs (at 4.5%). Time to top up.
  • Buy INF. Topping up on a dip.
  • Buy CCL. Cruise line business continues to plod forwards. But share price now lower than when I entered so I am topping up.
  • Buy MMM. One of the bluest chips. But keeps missing its numbers and now the subject of rumour breakups. A Dividend Champion – and depressed share price now leaves it at at historic dividend yields. Time to top up.

January 2020

Quite a lot of activity this month but mostly shuffling from one account to another. Blog post to follow..

  • Sell RTN. I’m overweight this horror story, but I’ve been convinced its share price would climb off the £1.10 floor. I’ve been right; at >£1.50/share I have reduced my position.
  • Sell Wood (John) Group. Miserable share price performance in this holding that my private bank got me into years ago. I’m decluttering my account and it’s time to bail.
  • Sell WPP. It’s slowly getting back to the Sorrell era. But strategically I am less and less convinced of relevance of mega agencies in world of Google/Facebook. Shareprice climbs reduce the losses I have been nursing; I’m out.
  • Sell BAB. I hold this for very random reasons and have nearly sold many times before. Time to clear out.

December 2019

  • Buy ADBE. I am underweight US stocks and like Adobe more than its relatively small weighting in my portfolio suggests. Time to top up (even at record high share price, gulp), a tiny bit.
  • Buy ITX. I am underweight International equities. I feel Zara is one of the rare B&M retailers that has a convincing story in an Amazoned world. Time to top up, a tiny bit.
  • Buy EL. EssilorLuxxotica is a giant business with a giant governance problem. On the Buffett ‘ham sandwich’ principle, I think it is oversold on those governance concerns. I’m buying, a bit.
  • Buy IUSA/VUSA. As last month, I am topping up as part of my reinvestment rebalancing.
  • Buy VFEM. I am also somewhat underweight ‘Intl equities’. This emerging market ETF will do for now.
  • Buy ALU. I don’t know quite why this microcap stock is so unloved but I still like it so I am topping up.
  • Buy AEWU. This unloved UK REIT is delivering >8% yield. I am reinvesting dividends, in my ISA.
  • Buy BLK. I am underweight US equities, and need to reinvest dividends. Time to continue building my position in BlackRock Inc; with equity markets on such a tear this can only help their short term numbers.

November 2019

  • Buy IUSA/VUSA. I am underweight US Equities and in the absence of any clear stock tips I am topping up the index.

October 2019

  • Buy EQN. I’m a customer, via Selftrade, of Equiniti, and it does OK. It isn’t as good as ii/Hargreaves but it isn’t so bad I want to swap. Sticky business, high margins. Growth of all key metrics by double digits. OK dividend yield (2.7%). And P/E of 11. A value buy?
  • Sell T. AT&T has been a longstanding holding of mine – but mostly in my High Yield Portfolio. Since its acquisition of Time Warner, and taking on $100bn+ of debt, I have been looking for a way to exit the position. A limit order recently triggered so my position has finally closed out.

September 2019

I’m underweight on UK and US equities, so am taking the opportunity to enlarge some small positions:

  • Buy DOMinos Pizza. Market leader, albeit in a fragmented space chased by excessive, irrational capital. Crap CEO now replaced. The next direction is up, methinks.
  • Buy SCS. Extending a small position in this very lowly valued regional retailer.
  • Buy INForma. Small, new, position in this leading information services business. One of the few sectors that probably does OK post Brexit, I reckon
  • Buy ALUmasc. Topping up a position I have held for a while in this microcap business. As a specialist manufacturer of building products there is plenty of downside risk here, but with an Entity Value of .3x Revs and ~5x recent profits I think this is a Buying opportunity.

Pruning the portfolio.

  • Sell VOD. Always been a miserable way to create value, and I am finally calling it thus.
  • Sell LLOY. Have held for a long time and share price has resolutely barely budged (well, to be fair, 50p->65p->50p). At least there is a 5-6% divi yield. But with recession coming and neobanks having so much capital thrown at them, this feels like it has downside risk.

August 2019

As of 26th August I decided to withdraw all my funds from P2P savings sites. I have had small sums with both Zopa and FundingCircle for years. I took out about half the funds to buy the DreamHome, back in January 2016, and was pleasantly surprised by the ease/speed of accessing my money. But evidently since then the liquidity has dropped – FundingCircle is now citing 92 days to access funds. For the record, my reasoning to get out is as follows:

  • Poor liqiduity. Anything like 90+ days is absurd, for the returns on offer.
  • Small sums – not justifying the tax/reporting/admin hassle.
  • No FSCS benefit. I increasingly think I’m better off spreading funds across FSCS-protected places, and making sure then I max out the FSCS limit. With P2P I was doing neither.
  • Unimpressive returns. I’ve been getting slightly better returns on Zopa than FundingCircle, despite FC’s claims to the contrary, but both are paltry – about 5% pre tax. I can and do get better with, among other things, corporate bonds, housebuilders, etc, all of which I can put in FSCS-protected places.
  • Business model scepticism. But that is another story. Suffice to say a well-placed social media campaign could sink these players.

Other than that, there’s not much to do this month as dividends are low. However, the bond rally is really eye-opening; a lot of my bond holdings are up >10% on a six month period, and are pushing my overall allocation close to ‘forced sale’ levels.

  • Sell VUCP. I’ve taken some profits out of this Corporate Bond holding, which was in an ISA (despite yielding only 3.5%); I’m less in favour of corporate bonds than I was so now is a good time to reduce.
  • Buy PSN. I’m tempted by Persimmon. I’ve got a significant holding already, and have watched both a) its high dividends and b) its public humiliation over its egregious CEO compensation. The politicians now hate it. However its recent share price fall seems to represent a buying opportunity and the FT’s Lex column, no less, recently agreed that PSN represents good value. I’m buying, into my ISA.

July 2019

I’m slightly underweight UK equities at present, as the dropping pound boosts my overseas holdings and even though the FTSE 100 is rising it isn’t enough to compensate.

  • Sell LLOY. I have stubbornly held on to Lloyds, the market leading UK clearing bank by miles. However it has stubbornly refused to prosper, weighed down by a) legacy tech b) bureaucratic culture and c) political oppression. Right now there is asymmetrical downside risk (ie UK economy droops, Lloyds gets clobbered) so I am closing out my position.
  • Sell BT. Not sure why I have got BT – I think originally I took it over from the private bank discretionary portfolio, and then the unrealised capital gain put me off selling it. Now it’s share price has gone backwards by 10 years I can sell at no gain. Ho hum.
  • Buy ALU. Microcap manufacturing biz. Shares are dipping, as UK manufacturing shares wilt under the Johnson “no deal nirvana”. P/e of 5-10.
  • Buy DOM. Pizza remains the best suited cuisine for takeaway, Just Eat or not. And the Dominos brand and platform remains the best. The only issue is the idiot CEO who has trashed franchisee relations. He won’t last, but he’s making the biz cheap. The brand’s strengths will endure.

June 2019

Context – I find myself underweight on USA equities, for some odd reason.

  • Buy ADBE. Market leader – hard to see how MSFT/Google/AAPL attack it – with good growth momentum. That I own none of. Doh. I’ve just opened a small position.
  • Buy DOCU. We all use this, right? Yet it’s still small. I suspect MSFT/ADBE/similar will buy it but in the meantime I think it’s on a roll. I’m buying.
  • Buy MMM. Topping up, with share prices still in the doldrums.
  • Buy GOOG, MSFT, FB. All of which took a bath due to some anti-trust noise emanating from the Trump administration. I view such news as a buying opportunity.
  • Buy HL. Hargreaves is a business I love to hate. And, boy, is it taking a whipping. But on the basis that ‘no publicity is bad publicity’, and that it is a market leader in a price-insensitive market, I think the recent share price fall may be a buying opportunity. I’m opening a position.

May 2019

  • Buy S&P500 – via VUSA, IUSA in roughly equal measure.  I am underweight US equities so playing catchup.
  • Buy CXN1.  Opening a position in NASDAQ-100 which long term has outperformed S&P, and Moore’s law has enough legs left in it to suggest that will continue.
  • Buy CCL.  Topping up this small, recent position – I quite like the US/UK nature of Carnival and believe it to be a good, premium brand in a (slow) growth sector.
  • Buy SCS. This is starting to look like a classic Ben Graham/Buffett stock; market cap is 1/3rd of cash, despite it being profitable.  Too tempting to resist.
  • Buy AMGN. Am underweight on US equities so am topping up this holding, which is at a record dividend yield.
  • Buy ALUmasc.  Topping up this holding which is now at 8% dividend yield. Risk certainly remains.

April 2019

Time to deploy some of the cash I’ve been building up pending Brexit day.

  • Buy WFC. A tainted Buffett angel.  But its dividend yield is approaching historic highs and, x-selling scandal or not, this is a quality well-run business.  I’m topping up.
  • Buy ALU. Topping up this smallcap (£36m!) UK equities holding.  This is a long term hold and is high risk, but so far as I can see the underlying trading performance is holding up and the dividend yield is tasty.  I am buying on a dip.
  • Buy EL.  Ian Cowie, the Sunday Times’ excellent private investor columnist, has brought my attention to EL, a Eurozone megacap equity.  ElinorLuxottica has lots of wonderful qualities, but is currently suffering from post merger indigestion.  I am opening a small position.
  • Buy CCL.  The cruise operator has been on my watchlist for ages.  I like the underlying market trends, the Anglo-American nature of the business, and the sense of moat from how complex it is to run a good cruise business.  I don’t like how competitive the space is and how pedestrian the growth rates.  Thanks to the aforementioned Ian Cowie reminding me about it, I’ll take a small position to get to know the business better.
  • Buy PRU.  I have long loved this UK plc with a clear Asian-focused strategy.  But its shareprice hasn’t returned the amour.  I’m topping up.
  • Buy LGEN.  A high yield play on the UK market, via this trusted brand.
  • Buy VUSA. Am significantly underweight USA equities, thanks to that being my largest allocation me having had some significant cash topups to the portfolio. I haven’t got any direct stocks to buy so will just add to the passive ETF.
  • Buy VAPX.  Similar logic to VUSA, but for International Equities.
  • Buy VWRL.  Simple quick way to deploy new tax year’s ISA topup, in a way which roughly mirrors my overall target equity allocation.
  • Buy BA(e).  I am very underweight UK Equities and am taking a punt on topping up my BAe exposure.  This was before the ‘BAe: Corbyn risk’ article appeared in the Sunday Times, sigh.

March 2019

  • Sitting on my hands, waiting for the Brexit cliff edge. Also waiting for new ISA tax year.  So my cash pile is a bit bigger than normal.
  • Buy LGEN. Just opening a small position – not much of a rationale except a generalised play on UK equities, with a decent dividend yield.
  • Buy MMM.  Small topup on this ‘forever’ holding.
  • Buy MDM.  I am underweight international and hence have taken this new position – a kind of French Dunelm – with better metrics.  This is a retail sector that online finds hard.
  • Buy ADBE.  Adobe seems to be secure in its market leadership and I like unassailable tech leaders, so I am opening this position. In a tiny way.

February 2019

  • Buy XOM. So, I’m underweight US equities. I have a few USD bob lying around.  And XOM, a Dividend Champion (36 years of consecutive dividend increases), is yielding 4.4% (thanks to the Economist’s leader saying Something Must Be Done about Big Oil…?).  What’s not to like?  Oh, that Economist leader, yes.

January 2019

December 2018

  • Buy XOM.
  • Buy WFC.
  • Sell EMR.
  • Sell ASX:MYO.
  • Buy ASX:WBC. Falling knife territory but very tempting divi yield, valuation etc.
  • My portfolio is getting warped by the equity drops, especially of FTSE. My UK equities position has dropped to 2.4pc under target, and UK and Intl fixed income’s gentle appreciation has seen them float up to 1.4 and 1.1pc overweight. Time for a rebalancing pair of trades:
  • Sell SLXX. I am disenchanted with corporate bonds and this etf is my biggest such holding. I’m reducing my position.
  • Buy ISF. FTSE 100 has dropped below 6700. This feels like a Buy signal. Divi yield is around 4.5pc.
  • Separately I am swapping some SAUS Australia ETF, which accumulates dividends, for XAUS, which distributes them. My fears over whether XAUS is physical or synthetic are outweighed by my greed for control over what I do with the income.

November 2018

  • Sell NWBD/LLPC/ABB1/87PN/BBYB. I remain stubbornly overweight UK fixed income, and am trying to reduce my overweight position to less than 1% of the portfolio. I think it’s time to reduce these direct holdings, which are all bigger than some of my diversified fixed income ETFs. I’ve been reluctant to trade these because the bid/offer spreads are significant but here goes….
  • Buy VUKE. The falls in UK equities, and my successful shift into International Equities, has left UK Equities my most underweight position. I’m nervous of UK equities, and my target allocation at 25% UK Equities makes me nervous in these Brexit-befuddled times, but my target is a target for a reason and I am taking steps to rebalance into UK equities.
  • Buy BA(e). As per my VUKE purchase. Time to buy some UK equities. Can’t get too excited about VUKE, can’t get too excited about any FTSE-100 stocks. But BAe is probably reasonably safe – in a world when the GBP rises or falls, and in any scenario except Corbyn.
  • Buy HSV. I admire Homeserve, and I like, Maynard Paton style, how it is its founder remaining as CEO/large shareholder. They are doing a good job growing the model overseas. Time to take a piece of the action.
  • Sell JNK/PFF. I remain overweight USA Fixed Income. Though I have fallen out of love with JNK/PFF, I have been reluctant to sell them because post MIFID I can’t buy or sell any more – all I can do is close the position. Nevertheless these two instruments, which I have seen as reliable high yielders, have let me down in various ways and it is time to sell. A wider post about my HYP awaits, but the quick summary is that I am unwinding it.
  • Buy BMW/DAI. I’m underweight International Equities, and on a bit of a whim have decided to do something significant about it. I’ve just taken reasonable (read: portfolio average) new positions in these two German car/truck manufacturers. Both are on low P/Es, with high dividend yields. But both have significant debt, so the P/E is misleading. Nonetheless, these are 100 year brands and the dividend yield tempts me. I’m effectively borrowing EUR to buy them; borrowing at 1.5% to buy 5%+ is a reasonable spread.
  • Buy AMZN. A limit order just triggered, signalling AMZN has just dipped below a level I thought (some weeks ago) would represent a buying opportunity. This is quite punchy of me because this holding is already one of my largest single stock holdings. And my US equity holdings are overweight too. However, rules are made to be broken.
  • Buy DOCUsign. These guys IPO’d earlier this year. I am seeing them everywhere these days. Simple tech, done well and sold well. I’ve opened a small position.

October 2018

  • Buy RTN. Yikes. Miserable sector. Leading player, with miserable brands. Patisserie Valerie there to show the Worst That Can Happen. And yet, the acquisition of Wagamamas makes sense; the share price is down 15% taking into account the impending rights issue; I rate the CEO. I’m topping up.
  • Buy XRO. I’m underweight AUS. And XRO has fallen in line with other highly rated unprofitable tech firms. I think it will come back. I’m topping up, significantly.
  • Buy ASY. I’ve liked this one since Maynard Paton put me onto it. Time to top up, to help my underweight UK equities position.
  • Buy BT.A. BT has halved in the last 2 years, and now sports a well-covered 6% divi yield. As an EE (owned by BT) customer I think EE whips its competitors’ backsides, and may be an undervalued asset. New CEO announced today, from Worldpay. Hard to see BT halving, and easy to see it doubling. I’m upping my (very small) position.
  • Buy PSN. Persimmon is down almost 30% from its peak. Divi now 10%+, with strong credibility. Almost whatever happens in UK with interest rates, Brexit, currency etc I believe Persimmon will grow. I’m topping up my considerable position.
  • Buy VFEM. I’ve been underweight International equities already. But in the recent selloff Asia has been harder hit than Europe/USA. The rebalancing continues.
  • Buy VPAX. More rebalancing towards International (Asia).
  • Buy H50E. More rebalancing towards International (Europe). This is only 10% down from peak, so less of a ‘bargain’ than the Asian stuff.
  • Buy HSV. I’m underweight UK equities so am shopping around. Homeserve is a business I’ve admired for years. And owned before, until the Great Liquidation to buy the Dream Home. Its growth momentum remains strong, it has a founder CEO, and it is making an impressive fist of becoming international. Its Checkatrade acquisition worries me but you don’t get return without risk. Not quite sure what price represents value so I will watch and learn.
  • Sell LLPC. A slight tweak to my target allocation a couple of months ago left me overweight in UK fixed income. Time isn’t fixing this, so I need to intervene. I have a direct holding in a Lloyds Bank 9.25% preferred shares which is rather too large for a single holding, and while its price is down and the bid/offer is painful, I’m taking some profits.
  • Sell ISXF. As per the LLPC move, I am intervening to reduce my UK fixed income position slightly. No particular reason to pick this ETF other than that I am generally less in favour of corporate bonds than I was.
  • Sell VUCP. And in line with my UK fixed income reductions, I also find myself needing to reduce my US fixed income positions slightly. I am less in favour of corporate bonds than I used to be so this Vanguard ETF is going to take the hit.

September 2018

August 2018

  • Buy DAI. Daimler is down 30%+ from peak. Rev and profit growth has stalled. But it owns one of the world’s top brands, has a P/E of 6, a dividend yield of 6% (covered 2.4x), global reach, unique technology, etc. Unfortunately, German governance. But a Buy, I reckon, and I’m underweight ‘International’ so this helps.
  • Sell KO. Closing this small position in the ultimate Buffett stock. Hasn’t been a great experience and hardly any millennial I know drink Coke so I think it’s time to bail.
  • Sell VZ. Reasonable dividends but very low growth. Hard to believe in double digit growth. I’m pruning, as I’m a bit overweight USA equities.
  • Buy ALU. Alumasc, a smallcap specialist construction manufacturer, has dropped 10% since I opened my position in January. I’m throwing good money after my badly timed initial investments. I like the underlying thesis, the risk exposure, and (irrationally) the thought I’m buying a meaningful piece of this <£50m cap business.
  • Buy BAe. Topping up my position, due to being underweight and thinking that amidst the Brexit noise the UK’s top defence manufacturer is probably a Buy right now. Nothing more scientific than that.
  • Buy VFEM and VAPX. I am underweight ‘international’ and am breaking out of my Eurozone-philia to increase my exposure to Asia/emerging markets.
  • Buy SAUS. Am underweight Oz and post MIFID this is one of the few ETFs I can readily buy.
  • Buy MEUD. Rebalancing towards ‘international’.
  • Buy VUTY. Am a bit short of US fixed income. And realising I have barely any Treasuries. Time to fix.
  • Buy VUKE. A minor buy to help deploy my a cash influx as per my rebalancing.
  • Buy ASL and SDV. Buys to help deploy cash influx – towards the Aberforth and Chelverton smaller cap investment trusts. Smaller cap was where one of my asset sales came from so re-upping makes some sense.

July 2018

  • Buy WKP. I’ve always liked Workspace Group, and all the recent media fuss about how WeWork is overvalued leaves me feeling that Workspace group is undervalued.
  • Buy FB. Opening a position on the Zuckerberg Faang. It has just dropped 20pc, and lost $120bn of value in the biggest ever one day single company drop. Overreaction? We’ll see.
  • Buy VEMT. Just been reminded of this Vanguard Emerging Markets Gilt (/Govt Bond) ETF. I have generally gone for corporate bonds not treasuries but for some reason am now biting the bullet and going sovereign. And I’m underweight ‘international’ so this one is a good fit.

June 2018

May 2018

  • Buy PG. Just spotted that you can get 4% divi yield with P&G. That is a rare opportunity. I’m opening a small position.
  • Buy DAI. I am underweight ‘international’ (which is mainly Eurozone, in my system). I am open to direct stock picking but struggle to find decent businesses where I trust the governance; Daimler looks like it fits the bill. A global brand, but facing a slight dip currently, hence a P/E of 7 and a div yield of >5%. A long term buy at €66/share.
  • Buy EWN, EIS. Upweighting ‘international’, this time with new positions – in passive tracking iShare ETFs of two countries I visit occasionally: Netherlands (high P/E, diversified global leaders like Phillips, Heineken, Unilever) and Israel (almost ’emerging market’, and no overlap with my current holdings).
  • Buy MEUD. The Lyxor Eurostoxx 600 passive tracker. After monevator’s article about Lyxor’s low-price ETFs, I’m adding this ETF to my core holdings list, and it helps me upweight into International nicely. My private bank had not traded it before, which tells you it’s helping me diversify out of the crowd too (!).
  • Buy AHT. I confess I can’t quite remember why I opened this position but think it was its dividend prowess and solid financials.

Apr 2018

  • Buy T. Back down to $34 – for reasons currently unknown – which puts its dividend yield above 6%. That doesn’t happen very often with this Dividend Champion. I have been a long term – but small – holder in this stock. Very stable share price ($33-$40), very slow dividend growth. But with 6% yield there is, based on the trading range, a better-than-usual chance of a 10%+ total return over the next 12 months.
  • Buy VFEM. Who’s the fool who’s buying Emerging Markets just as Trump kicks off a trade war targeting, erm, Emerging Markets? Me. I’m underweight on ‘International’ and don’t have a preferred source of exposure to just getting the passive holding. Though I am tempted by some of the markets highlighted here: https://thebritishinvestor.com/2018/02/ten-cheapest-countries-cape-ratio-2018/.
  • Buy ALU. Alumasc is a stock tip I saw in January that tickled my fancy; it has fallen from £1.70 to £1.25 and I think, rather than discrediting the stock tip, it represents a buying opportunity. I’m extending my position.

Mar 2018

  • Sell GE. Have held GE for ages, more fool me. Now getting out to get the capital loss before the end of the UK tax year. Might come back in in the the next tax year depending what happens on the mood music.
  • Sell TLS. I’m realising that if I am getting out of VOD then I should get out of TLS, the incumbent Oz telco. Broadly it should be a stable cashcow but with the ‘high speed broadband by fiat’ government interference down under it isn’t plain sailing for them. I’m not close enough to it. I’m off, and getting some of my loss back from the UK government.
  • Sell VOD. Realising that I can’t see any reason to hold Vodafone these days. 5% yield aside, it is not a product I would recommend in the UK (vs EE who as a recent convert from O2 I find to be excellent), and my limited understanding of the business itself centres around the very difficult time it is having in the Indian market. If I want a good telecoms utility I think Verizon is the best blue chip in the space.
  • Buy JUP, SDR. Jupiter fund management and Schroders have been on my mind for a while – since Stockopedia tipped JUP in the new year (at >600p). Recent price dips (to <500p) create a buying opportunity, I think, so I’ve initiated a position in both.

Feb 2018

Jan 2018

  • Buy TW, PLUS, SCS, RPC. Just taking a look at Stockopedia’s StockRank system. Quite a lot of its top-ranked stuff is either hard to trade (microcap etc) or makes me nervous (mining, etc) but I’m going to take a nibble on PLUS500, SCS Group, RPC Group, and Taylor Wimpey.
  • Sell BARC, HMSF. Finally quitting @weenie’s Money Stock League experiment. Picking five random stocks (alphabetically, beginning with B) wasn’t the path to riches, but nor did it do too badly. After two years, weenie reckoned I was up 7% including dividends. I’m keeping BAG, BA. and BAB and selling the other two.
  • Sell ISXF. Further deleveraging, further getting out of corporate bonds.
  • Sell ISF. Swapping some Passive for some Active exposure to UK equities.

Dec 2017

  • Sell VTI. Minor deleveraging trim of this core US Equities position. The only sensible thing to do when reading that S&P500 has got a Sharpe of 3+ in 2017, surely? I am going to crystallise quite a gain here unfortunately.
  • Bought H50E. I am underweight on International Equities, and I keep reading how European equities are ‘relatively good value’. Certainly there aren’t too many direct holdings that appeal to me, so the top 50 ETF works for me.
  • Bought RGL. First nibble here of a Regional REIT, whose yield (7%+) and strategy (non-London commercial warehouses etc) appeal to me.
  • Sell T. Limit order just triggered at $38.
  • Sell SLXX. Mild deleveraging trim to my position. Increasingly I am persuaded of http://www.monevator.com et al.’s argument that the only true bonds are government bonds, which means my corporate bond exposure is uncomfortably large.
  • Sell JNK. Am overexposed fixed income. And becoming increasingly aware of the ‘faux bonds’ quality (i.e. low correlation) of high yield bonds. Good candidates for reducing my position on.
  • Sell PFF. Becoming increasingly aware of the ‘faux bonds’ quality of faux bonds i.e. preferred shares. Good candidates for reducing my position on.

Nov 2017

  • Buy PCLN. Limit order just triggered. Not sure why yet.

Oct 2017

  • Buy T. Limit order at $36 just triggered – I haven’t yet figured out why the stock dipped from $38 to $36 but this is probably a long-term buying opportunity. Fingers crossed….
  • Buy WPP. Being a bit naughty here as I’m overweight in UK but WPP at 3 year lows – which looks too good an opportunity to miss. I bought a few times this month, just nibbling really.

Sep 2017

  • Buy QCOM. I am underweight US equities, and QCOM is on a slight dip. I’m topping up.
  • Buy DIS. As per QCOM – Disney is at the price it was 18 months ago despite some useful growth since then. I’m getting in deeper.
  • Sell TGT. Based on my usual rule of thumb, I should be buying more of Target. Its dividend yield is more compelling than ever. However the reason the share price is down is that the market considers Target to be the next in line to be flattened by the AMZN steamroller. I am minded to agree with the market. I’m trimming my position.

August 2017

  • Buy WPP. I have long had a small holding in WPP, which hasn’t gone very far. With the recent profit warning/correction, the price is down to the level last seen 3 years ago. The business is quite a bit bigger, and despite gloomy global prospects it is the classiest act in this massive sector. I am topping up.
  • Sell ISXF. I am deleveraging, and generally doing this by reducing my fixed income exposure. I’ve set some limit Sell orders on a few and this one just triggered.
  • Sell IAUS. I am overweight Oz equities by 0.5%, about 10% of the total weight, so I am taking profits.
  • Sell JNK. Sell PFF. Similar logic to both of these. Deleveraging, reducing fixed income; these two are among my largest single holdings, so time to trim slightly.

July 2017

  • Bought PCLN. I have bumped against Priceline professionally, admittedly tangentially, and been an admirer. I almost bought six months ago, but decided the P/E was too high. Since then they’ve kept rising, but roughly in line with e.g. AMZN. Now the Economist has just profiled them. Which must mark the top… but it makes various good arguments and leads me to agree that Priceline is in the same league as Amazon, admittedly with a narrower moat. I like owning the clear industry leader and they are one. P/E no higher than normal. Buy.
  • Bought CSCO. Topping up a very small holding, as part of a ‘pruning’ exercise – looking at my smaller positions and either topping up or closing out. CSCO divi yield is near its peak, and from what little I know of the business its prospects of remaining a global leader are good.
  • Sell KMI. Selling out of this position as part of the ‘pruning’ exercise. There is a long story behind this stock but its divi progress has been poor even after a savage ‘reset’ so my sympathy for the stock has just expired.

June 2017

  • Sold JNK. I am nearing quarter end and wanting to continue my deleveraging. Updating my figures shows I’ve slipped from underweight US fixed income to overweight. So I’m selling some of one of my larger holdings, a junk bond ETF.
  • Bought RTN. I am a bit underweight UK equities and have some spare cash in unleveraged accounts, so time to deploy it. RTN is one I am cautiously optimistic about – despite facing UK consumer headwinds I think it will recover to £4 and so at today’s £3.35 it is a speculative buy.
  • Bought LLOY. As above I am underweight UK. Interest rates feel like they are about to start climbing, which will help UK retail banks. Lloyds has a strong CEO and enviable market position. Static share price for years. I’m calling it.
  • Bought TGT. A limit order clicked, when TGT briefly dipped to $50 on the announcement of Amazon buying Whole Foods for $14bn. Target was back at $53 by the time I spotted, which was a 6% same-day return. It’s yielding about 4.6% and while I have long-term nervousness over its growth prospects I am OK holding this bellwether stock for now.

May 2017

  • Sold VTI. Looking to reduce exposure to US stocks, fractionally, and can’t see too many individual equities I want to reduce. So the index will have to do.
  • Sold JPM, MMM. Taking profits, partially, as part of an effort to reduce US equities exposure a smidgeon.
  • Bought BND, VUCP. Trying to get more US fixed income (which is my main underweight exposure right now, by over 1%); some in a GBP account.
  • Bought AGNC. Tiny nibble on this high yield junk REIT, which is one of my smallest holdings (below my minimum holding, in fact).
  • Sold NG. Small holding, held without enthusiasm, as a UK-only equity dividend play. Has risen 15% in a year and faces policy headwinds so in a tiny portfolio cleanup + ‘risk off’ move I am closing out the position.
  • Sold VUKE. Small ‘risk off’ trade to reduce my UK equity holdings (with FTSE-100 above 7500!) in a leveraged account.

April 2017

  • Bought QCOM and TGT on dips. This is counter policy right now as if anything I want to reduce US exposure but the prices look tempting – albeit in TGT’s case the Amazon headwinds are significant. I will need to reduce US equities in other ways soon.
  • Sold PSN. Taking (a few) profits at Persimmon as part of a wider reduce-UK-exposure play.
  • Buy JNK, PFF. Am underweight US fixed income so am topping up my perennial fixed income favourites in a world of miserable yields.
  • Buy TLS, Telstra. Am a bit underweight Oz right now and TLS is on a dip – I’m not quite sure why but broadly I have confidence in Telstra’s ability to preserve its monopoly privileges in the lucky country.

March 2017

  • Further selling of Australian ASX200 ETF. I remain overweight Oz and have been selling my UK-listed iShares ASX200 ETF. I have finally closed this position.
  • Bought TLS, Telstra. This has dipped to recent lows. I see it as a long term safe utility with gently rising dividends so now feels like an OK time to top up. This is one step backwards on my ‘reduce Australian equities’ objective however.
  • Bought VGB, Oz govt bonds. Most of my brokers can’t easily offer Australian bonds so I have been left underweight on them. However my Interactive Broker account can, and by reducing my London-listed equity exposure I can shift into bonds. I’ve taken the opportunity.
  • Bought JNK, BND, AGG. I am underweight US bonds so am topping up.
  • Sold IUSA. I am overweight US equities and really trying to make a determined effort to reduce my margin loan so this is place to go raiding. Unfortunately I am going to be paying capital gains tax on these realisations.
  • Sold NXT. Next is one of my largest unrealised losses. It is in a sector (UK retail) which is down 20-30% since Brexit, so I don’t immediately sense a buying opportunity. I’ve made a significant disposal, as part of capital gains tax planning. If it stays around £40 I will buy back in after >30 days.
  • Sold PSON. A month ago I thought Pearson was a buying opportunity (at £6/share). I now think it is a basket case, and it has risen to £6.60/share. I’m taking profits.
  • Sold BGY. I am overweight International Equities and don’t have many positions I can easily sell. But I’m disillusioned with this high-fee monster so am closing out my position.
  • Bought TGT. Target has taken a beating recently. I am torn between thinking its future is bleak vs Amazon, and thinking that with 45 years of dividend increases I see it as having the discipline to cope. I have made a mild topup.

February 2017

  • Sold Australian ASX200 ETFs. I am overweight Oz, and I am rotating out of unmarginable ETFs (e.g. LSE:SAUS) and into the local marginable equivalent (VAS) and SYD (a long-term holding which is underweight).
  • Sold TP ICAP. My original thesis for owning ICAP was Michael Spencer’s influence and shareholding. The demerger has left me with two subscale holdings. Spencer has sold TP ICAP so I will too. I haven’t decided what to do with the remaining NEX Group holding at this point.
  • Buy Premier Oil 5% 2020. My UK/Fixed Income is underweight, so I have been slowly buying. With bonds down 10% off their (stratospheric) peak it doesn’t feel too uncomfortable either. This Premier Oil note, PMO1, is my latest fixed income direct bond holding. I am slowly accumulating.
  • Sold Schroder Asian Income Maximiser. A rebalancing sell. I don’t often do these, but my ‘International/fixed Income’ is significantly overweight; I have two big holdings here, both with my private bank, which are hard/impossible to sell. This leaves me selling about the only liquid investment I have in this allocation cell, which is this Schroders fund.

January 2017

  • Sold SAUS, bought EWA. I’ve just realised my Australian ETFs aren’t marginally, or at least the ones listed in London and Sydney. IShares’ EWA, in New York, is marginally but comes with USD risk. I’m ok with that and so am rotating out of SAUS and into EWA.
  • Sold ETG, BGY. Taking stock, and looking for ways to reduce USA (and International, to a smaller extent) exposure, I have been drilling into BGY and ETG. These funds have both been a yield traps, with quite high fees. I’ve held both for long enough to see experience triumph over hope. In fairness to BGY it has delivered what I wanted: international equities, stable pricing, high yield – but I no longer want that. Hard to make a case for ETG, as its high ( taxable) yield comes at the opportunity cost of a lot of capital gains.
  • Bought NXT. I have held Next since it was <£20, and seen it get above £70. But it’s not in good odour currently. This week it’s just fallen 20% to £40. It’s revenues are flat/falling and it makes no bones about the lack of growth. But long term it’s a terrific brand, highly cash generative, and decently exposed in a multichannel world (at least for a UK-only business). Its management has long experience and (Brexit support aside) shrewd shareholder-friendly leadership. I think upsides outweigh downsides at £40, and it’s the first single-digit P/E buying opportunity I can remember.
  • Bought PSON. The quarter-end cash has started to accumulate. I need to reinvest. My rebalancing matrix says this means in UK equities. But where to look, when FTSE-100 is at an all time high? Eek. PSON fell on hard times a year ago, and been flat since. Its dividend has been relatively unaffected suggesting management thinks the shareprice woes are overdone; currently its yield is about 6%. Long term it owns some proper businesses and brands, with a lot of US exposure, and I reckon it will turn out alright. I’m not putting much in so haven’t done much more analysis than that.


  • Bought AMGN. AMGN has just increased its dividend by 15%, making about the fifth year of such increases, yet its yield is at a since-IPO high. I haven’t dug into the patent expiry funnel but think it can’t be that bad if the Directors are increasing divis by 15% and I like buying divi-increasers at record high yields. However I am overweight USA so am looking for things to sell as a quid pro quo…
  • … Sell ISA. I am overweight USA and the market is at record highs. I’m not trying to time the market, but want to ‘sterilise’ my purchase of AMGN – so am selling a roughly equal position in my biggest USA ETF.


  • Bought RTN. The Restaurant Group is on my accumulate list right now and prices dropped 10% from the last buy. Since this buy prices have fallen a further 10%+. I think this one is a Buy right now.
  • Bought NTEA. I’m underweight on UK fixed income (due partly to market falls but more due to my private banking nightmares – see forthcoming blog); Northern Electric’s bond yields about 5% and isn’t a banking bond, so I’ve added a tiny bit to my position.
  • Bought LLPC. As per NTEA, I’m adding to my UK fixed income position. LLPC because I’m reinvesting the recent ~6% coupon from Lloyds’ bond.
  • Sell BND. I sold a tiny bit of this US Bond ETF, due to worries (borne out in the next few weeks) that the US bond boom may be nearings its sned.


  • Sold ISXF. Generally I’m trying to reduce my bond exposure a tiny bit; bonds have had too good a run for too long. This is not big enough a move to count as rebalancing, just a nibble around the edges.
  • Sold HSBA. This was top 10 holding last year , largely due to me buying on dips / catching a falling knife. The more I thought about it and watched other European/Asian banks the less I liked this. With the price back above £6 I’ve been trying to ‘take profits’ (sell at less of a loss!).
  • Bought BGY. I have been a bit low on International Equity; this holding feels like a solid, high yielding candidate, so I’m increasing my position.


  • Buy TGT. With S&P at record levels it isn’t easy to find good value right now. But it looks to me like TGT is worth a nibble. It has increased dividends for 48 years, and in the last three years by an annual 16% p.a.. Yet its dividend yield is at an almost record high of 3.5%. It has had issues recently and Amazon’s tanks are on the far reaches of its side lawn; today’s news saw it fire its Chief Digital Officer for not achieving 40% online growth. I’m in.
  • Sell CAT. A ‘dividend contender’ (having increased dividends for 22 years), I am not convinced the trends can continue in the near term. Divi yield is quite low. I see knock-offs of the brand in Asia. And China’s capital boom has bust. It feels like I should rotate from this into something with clearer medium term momentum.
  • Buy DIS. Disney must be about as blue-chip a stock as there can be (notwithstanding its corporate governance shenanigans). And what enormous moats. For such a stock my only real question is what price to buy at. At $93 it is 22% below previous highs of $120. And its dividend yield, while unimpressive at 1.5% (payout ratio of 25%), is approaching historic peaks (except 2009 when it exceeded 2%). I’m buying.
  • Buy PFE. I’m a tiny bit underweight US equities. But they are at record valuations so how to top up needs some thought. I’ve decided to top up my Pfizer holding. I’ve held Pfizer since early 2008, more out of a sense of blue chip duty than with any special knowledge about the company or its sector. It’s returned 10% per year and its dividends have doubled, without me reinvesting any of this dividend stream. The share price has risen significantly too but the yield is 3.5% which is quite high for an S&P stock. Belatedly I’ve invested 60% of my cumulative ever Pfizer dividends back into the stock.
  • Sell ORCL. I was reading Amazon’s latest annual report recently and it strikes me its professional database offering Aurora is probably long term going to do for Oracle what its AWS service has been doing to IBM. I’m not close enough to know otherwise but why risk it. I’ve closed out my ORCL position.
  • Buy MKC. A dip below $100 just triggered a limit order. I am not close to the business but as a leading FMCG provider of branded food/spices/etc this is long term investment.
  • Buy RTN. A new CEO appointment at this multi-brand UK restaurant business has triggered me looking at this business. I’m pretty shocked by what I see. I have to think the new chap will do better and hope this isn’t yet all priced in. I’m buying below £4.


  • Buy JNK. Give me the choice between Her Majesty’s finest, and Uncle Sam’s junk and, right now, I’d rather have Uncle Sam’s junk. At least while it fits with my rebalancing requirements.
  • Buy WFC. I am underweight USA, and, given my rotation out of HSBC, my two ‘go to’ USA bank stocks (JPM and WFC) are worth looking at again. WFC’s dividend yield is approaching its top quartile ever levels so I am topping up at $49.
  • Buy H50E. I’m underweight International Equities so looking to top up. Can’t really face any specific direct holdings at the moment but I quite like the HSBC ETF which tracks the top 50. I’m adding to my small holding.
  • Sold HSBC. HSBC nudging £5.40. Delicious.
  • Sold INXG. Index-linked Gilts have, not surprisingly, had a massive lift recently. However I consider my equities portfolio to be a pretty good inflation exposure, and UK gilts not as safe a bet as the market considers. And I’m overweight. So time to reduce.
  • Sold IGLT. Partial sale at £13.80. I am overweight UK fixed income by 2.5% and can’t get my head around bond prices so it feels like a good opportunity to take profits.
  • Sold SLXX, iShares Corporate Bond ETF. This just triggered a limit order at £150. Partial sale. I got into this in January at £130/share, what I thought was top of the market. It’s carried on rising after my sale and sits at £152. I can’t believe it. I remain long on this but will look to continue to reduce my exposure.
  • Sold HSBC. I’ve been in this for a long time (since over £6.00). It’s been languishing around £4.40 for ages despite a divi yield of over 6pc. But recent rally of up above £5.00 feels like a good time to trim exposure; banking stocks make me nervous and HSBC has confirmed its divi isn’t really sustainable.
  • Sold CRE, Creston research. I haven’t been following these guys for a while. But a UK-focused market research firm doesn’t feel like a good place to be post Brexit drop in confidence; research is an easy thing to pull the plug on. I’m closing out my entire position. I’ll recycle a bit of this into something US-based but in general this liquidation is part of a gradual reduction in exposure.


  • Sold VUKE, Vanguard’s FTSE-100 tracker. FTSE up above 6700 feels great. This has helped push my UK equity allocation over 3% ahead of my target. I’m trimming my exposure slightly. My US equity is 1% underweight but that’s not enough for urgent remedial action.
  • Slight reweighting of my target allocation. I don’t like reweighting, but with my net worth now 20% larger (in GBP terms, sigh) than six months ago, I feel my leverage is a bit high, and my bond exposure is also a bit high. I can afford to up my risk exposure a bit provided I continue to pay down debt. And I can’t face buying bonds at the latest prices [is this rational? Should my target allocation be stuck to? Time will tell]. So I’ve reduced my bond target from 45% to 40%, and also my leverage target from -45% to -40%. Equity target remains at 100%. This pushes my equity:fixed income split from 100:45 to 100:40 but reduces my gearing from 45/145 (31%) to 40/140 (28%), but now UK:US is reversed from 40%:35% to 35%:40%.
From 20/7/16AusInt’lUKUSATotal
Fixed income1%4%20% (25%)15%40% (45%)
Cash0%0%-25%-15% (-20%)-40% (-45%)
Total5%20%35% (40%)40% (35%)100%
  • Sold ARM. With the Softbank acquisition pushing ARM up to £17 (up from £9 in January) I took some profits – I sold a third of my holding.
  • Sold ADN. General Brexit-related uplift in Aberdeen allows me to crystallise slightly less of a loss. I’m taking it. I think Brexit can’t help, nor can general world downturn if it all goes t*ts up.
  • Sold Next. An opportunistic limit order caught Next, post brexit, at £45. Now, three weeks later, it’s £51 – up 15%. I’ll take profits. My pre-Brexit holding remains intact.

June 2016

  • Sold SLXX. The core iShares corporate bond ETF in the UK has just pipped £140. Time to trim back a little. If the UK really is toast (not clear, currently) then corporate default rates could rise. Unlikely but I’d rather have the cash to recycle into housebuilders.
  • Bought ETG. It is tempting to buy more UK bargains but even with the market ‘rout’ (ha!) my UK equity position is only a fraction underweight. In fact my most underweight position is International Equities. ETG, a global dividend income fund on NYSE (but with a 62% exposure to European Equities), is now, at $13.50, on an 11% discount to NAV and has dropped about 8% recently. It posts an 8% income yield and has been nicely predictable for years. I’m topping up.
  • Bought BRK.B. Slight dip in this belwether stock to $138 creates a slight buying opportunity. I would get greedier below $130.
  • Bought DIS. The pleasures and perils of Good-Til-Cancelled limit orders. I haven’t been watching this stock but had an opportunistic buy order in from some months ago. Interestingly this was the first post Brexit limit order to fill, at $95. Solid Buffett-style stock so while it isn’t a bargain I suspect as a long-term hold it will do fine.
  • Bought 87PN, a Barclays 7% note. I’m noticing Barclays’ digital strengths recently and suspect their market position is more solid than their share price gives them credit for; right now I’m less sure about what to make of the Euro-zone-based Santander so will stick to UK notes. I certainly think a 6.5% running yield in my SIPP is not to be sniffed at so I’m topping up.
  • Brexit! Possible bargains clicked via my limit orders – bought some NXT at around £47 and some PSN at around £15 (now £12.50!). These limits clicked at levels which are now some way higher than the market prices, so I have then topped up again. Buying falling knives isn’t comfortable but I consider both of these businesses to be broadly solid and hope their market falls are unwarranted.

May 2016

  • Nothing to report

April 2016

  • Bought some JNK. This is part of my continued efforts to rebalance towards USA and fixed income; conventional ETFs feel toppy and low yield, but JNK has quite a tight trading range and is yielding 6%. It has been hit by the preponderance of shale oil/gas producers in the high yield debt market but with oil prices on the up I am hoping the worst is behind us.
  • Bought some banking debt. I’m trying to rebalance toward bonds but can’t really stomach the low yields. So I’m topping up on some old favourites: NWBD, LLPC, 87PN, ABB1 – which are generally yielding around 6% gross.
  • Bought Persimmon (PSN). The builders continue to feel like good bets, while the government is throwing cash at the housing market, and while the pound is in freefall. I don’t know much about the individual builders but a friend rates Persimmon so I will start there and use a small holding to increase my attention level.

January-March 2016

  • My diary was suspended as I went through a major rebalancing exercise related to my buying my Dream Home. This rebalancing involved a multitude of trades but in quite a mechanical way – so the diary wouldn’t contain any useful signals. This process was almost complete by 1 April.

December 2015

  • As of 15/12/15. This diary is temporarily suspended, while The Dream Home is purchased. This is involving a *lot* of Sell Orders, which are too numerous to list here. Most are picked by tax considerations (i.e. I am closing out unrealised gains) and many of the remainder are clumsy position transfers as I move funds from unmarginable accounts into marginable accounts so listing them here would be pointless.
  • Bought PSON (Pearson). I have Pearson as a long-term hold – I see it as a global leader in a growing space (education), with a significant moat. However right now it has real challenges, and its share price has halved in the last few months. In the short term, there is plenty more falling-knife downside risk – of a dividend cut, top management chaos, M&A distractions, etc. For the long term, I think now is a good time to fill my boots. I’m doing so.
  • Bought XOM (Exxon Mobil). Exxon has, like the other oil/commodity majors, taken a hefty hit. But it’s the bluest chip in the sector, has raised dividends every year since before I was born, and if any company can whether the energy price dramas it is Exxon. My view on long term energy prices is pretty similar to Monevator’s view, i.e. they will go up, not down, from here. Provided they get to $70 at some point, this investment should come good.

November 2015

  • Bought HSBA (HSBC Ords). HSBC is one of more core holdings – I see it as a solid, global franchise that will provide above-inflation growth for a lifetime and has less of the flashy-braces-risk-of-blowing-up that comes with some other ‘too big to fail’ banks. However, its share price performance has been pretty dismal for a sustained period, which either means I’m wrong or it’s a bargain. Right now it’s dividend yield is a worryingly high 7%, and so far as I can see management has every intention and confidence of sustaining it. I’m topping up in my tax-free account.

October 2015

  • Sold BWNG (N Brown Group). I have held this for a while (hoping it was a cut-price Asos with some shops), but become disillusioned with it (as it has serially underperformed). But with its share price in the doldrums I didn’t want to sell. It has recently spiked almost 20% (despite it just revealing its online business is growing by about 1% pa which means it is losing share) – this gives me an opportunity to close the position.
  • Bought BRK.B. Berkshire Hathaway. The name alone gives me quivvers. Yet I’ve never steeled myself to buy it, always thinking that its best days were behind it. But hey, the market is down 10%, and Berkshire is a conglomerate of solid American-focused businesses, and the Great Man has next to nothing to do with their daily operations, right?, so isn’t this just a type of unit trust that reinvests its dividends? Let’s give it a go.
  • Bought VBR. USA, small-stock, Vanguard. Another way to increase exposure to the USA. Along with the BRK acquisition, this balances my USA equity investments slightly into smaller cap stocks.
  • Bought RDSB. Shell. >6% yield. And its CEO has just made some very public statements about the importance the whole company, and notably its board, places on maintaining the dividend. A buy signal, I hope.

September 2015

  • Sold BMW. Sold DAI. Buy MMM, DE, PG. Oops – selling a stock two weeks after buying it is not textbook. But upon the VW cheating-at-emissions-test scandal emerging, I took the view what VW does BMW and Daimler probably do too. Certainly there will be a discount over the sector until they are proved innocent, or worse. I managed to Sell BMW and DAI before the herd (they duly dropped 6% that day; I got out at par, roughly) and think I dodged a bullet here. I am recycling into GE, MMM, PG – roughly speaking from German manufacturing/brands into USA manufacturing/brands.
  • Bought BMW. Buying Euro stocks is not currently consistent with my (under)allocation, but seeing BMW at >3.5% yield in the current conditions is too tempting to resist. One of the world’s great brands with, despite China’s current turmoil, excellent prospects as the global middle class expands over the next 20 years.
  • Bought MMM. Can’t believe that MMM is now >10% cheaper than when I opened my position less than two months ago. Yum. Lots of other blue chip, Dividend Champion stocks at >3% yield which is highly unusual for the USA. Fish in a barrel right now, right?

July 2015

  • Bought AXP. Small purchase as part of my ‘increase exposure to USA equities’ moves right now; I still consider AXP (American Express) a relatively better deal than the market as a whole.
  • Sold some IUKD. Actually a pretty significant rotation out of IUKD (for reasons set out earlier), and DWX (international dividends) and DVY (US dividends) all for similar reasons – I no longer think an ETF is the right way of getting high yield equities exposure. Between them I am selling a six figure position – one of my biggest moves in a while. I’m taking the opportunity to rebalance towards USA and Australia. So far as I read it IUKD has outperformed FTSE-100, but is basically a blend of FTSE-100 and FTSE-250. So by (partially) swapping out of IUKD into VMID (or MIDD) I am essentially swapping from high yield (and high turnover) FTSE-350 into FTSE-250. I’m also buying IAF (Australian bonds), VTI (US Equities), IOZ (Australian equities), JNK (US bonds), PFF (US Preferred shares), XOM (Exxon: US Equities), and MMM (3M: US Equities). Before these trades my UK Equities position was almost +6% overweight so I need to take more drastic action than just reinvesting dividends (especially when I don’t want to use UK tax-free accounts’ dividends to buy USA securities).
  • Bought some VUSA, Vanguard’s S&P 500 on the London stock exchange. Broadly I think S&P is overvalued but my US exposure is underweight and I haven’t got any VUSA in that particular brokerage account so I bought a small amount.
  • Bought QCOM, Qualcomm. My opening position. Qualcomm is an unusual stock – one I have historically been cynical about – in that it is a) US Tech b) heavy on IP c) currently quite high yield. I like most of the above, but they don’t usually show up in one place. I am not the only one – e.g. see here.
  • Bought VUKE. On a limit order. This is not textbook because my UK exposure is overweight; however I have some limit orders set for buying VUKE on dips and one of them just triggered. Sure enough as of the time of writing two days later I am in the money, as VUKE is rebounding.
  • Bought some MMM, in a US tax-exposed account where the cash balance has just exceeded my trigger to reinvest. MMM because I am underweight in the USA, but not overly keen on the market index right now, and MMM is a dividend megachampion (dividends raised for 57 years on the trot) in which I am barely exposed, yet yielding around 3% (quite high for the USA).

June 2015

  • Taken advantage of Grexit-driven market dip to swap some IUKD for CTY. Have decided to swap out of IUKD completely over next few weeks, in light of Greybeard’s article and accumulated concerns over 5 years. Ideal replacement would be Vanguard UK Equity Income ETF but their fund isn’t an ETF yet.
  • Small BLT purchase as a longstanding limit order has triggered.
  • Bought more of JNK (SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF). One of my (taxable) broker accounts has recently accumulated enough cash to trigger a reinvestment. I am underweight on USA Equities and Fixed Income (about 2.5% below target on both; this is proportionately worse on Fixed Income due to my lower target allocation on that). US Equities sound quite highly valued, whereas JNK is close to 3 year lows.
  • Small topup of BHP Billiton (BLT) in tax-free account. BHP is <£13.50 and I have been buying at <£14. Decent divi yield; UK listed so good for tax-free account; increases my underweight Australian exposure (thanks to me subjectively assigning BHP to Australia!).

May 2015.

  • Switched from an AUD$ currency fund into ASX:IAF, an iShares Corporate Bond ETF that I didn’t know existed until very recently. Why? My target allocation for AUD Fixed Income has always been artificially low / missed because I found investing in them so difficult; I have now found an ETF tradeable on one of my brokers with AUD funds in it. And with cash rates having halved to about 2%, but bond yields still holding up above 4%, this is a yield optimisation play within AUD. Is the additional risk acceptable? Based on my USD experiences, I perceive so. Time will tell.
  • Bought AXP (American Express). Why? Having increased my target USD allocation a couple of months ago, I am slowly rebalancing into it. The S&P feels a bit toppy (based on CAPE, market sentiment, and suchlike) so instead I’ve gone for one of my core watchlist stocks that is about 20% below peak. Slight misgivings about AXP, based on how I myself am using it less than I used to (and its short term numbers will be a bit complex due to it losing its biggest account, Costco), but overall I think it is a premium global brand – and those I like.

33 thoughts on “Diary”

  1. Morning FireVsLondon,

    I found your site through the weekend reading post on Monevator.

    Great job with you being featured!

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    To celebrate my blog launch I’m doing a big personal finance book giveaway and thought your crowd might be interested.

    It ends this Sunday (9th of October). The winner gets five best-selling personal finance books:

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    PS: I put together a pre-filled out tweet, http://ctt.ec/e_aP2

    P.P.S Couldn’t find an email address for you so posting here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Any reason for choosing EWA over VAS (listed on ASX)? EWA has .48% management fee vs .15% for VAS, and VAS seems to be more diversified (i.e. essentially ASX 300 vs a subset, although top ten holdings look similar except for Telstra)?

    I am carrying outsize Australian exposure currently (lived there for a while, AUD is weak on a 10y chart, and 100y equity returns in Australia are the highest globally), so curious as to your drivers for selection. Also, does EWA really have USD exposure? Prices are listed in USD, but there’s no real USD exposure, is there (if you had an AUD denominated ETF holding 100% AUD assets and converted the price back to USD each day, it would be the same, wouldn’t it?)?

    I have been using VAS, VAP and VGB in conjunction with VGAD to take on my Australian exposure. I find the fees lower if you trade in the local currency, and I find it easier to track performance in local currency.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. This may be my error in targeting ASX 200 not ASX 300.
      Point taken re usd exposure yes.
      I will try vas and check what margin IB gives me for it. Am also interested by your other ETFs.
      Have been thinking of a blog post about Australian investment opportunities as in general I find its equities uncompelling. But first need to figure out what the market dividend cover is – any ideas?


    2. @GraSmi – many thanks again for the pointers to the Vanguard Oz ETFs. I have been experimenting and can confirm that the margin arrangements on IB for VAS are good – it is 75% marginable (similar to EWA, better than SAUS). Unfortunately VGB is not marginable (nor is IAF, my iShares equivalent). I’m not interested in VAP or VGAD at this point but it’s good to know they exist. Furthermore the SAUS holding is surprisingly illiquid – e.g. IB won’t let me trade more than 200 at a time (!). I’m now moving my significant SAUS holding into VAS and hope for a significant improvement in margin cover. I owe you a beer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad to be of assistance. Liquidity on VAS has been ok from what I’ve seen (although liquidity generally is, until it isn’t :)), but I generally hold my positions for >12 months for tax purposes – so I’m no HFT. The only downside with the local equivalents I see is that the trading costs are marginally higher than for their US listed brethren, and you need to be awake at strange hours to execute!

        I’ll hit you up for that beer if I manage to quit my job (working on it now) and end up back in London (won’t be before Apr-18 – I’m currently a tax exile due to CGT, so will follow the summer until then). Will be good to bounce some ideas around!




  3. I think the margin rates on AUD are higher than for USD. But is there anything stopping you from borrowing USD, converting the USD to AUD, and then putting the 0.33% you save on the management fee towards the margin loan? You do have some risk then that your loan is in USD and your asset is in AUD, but conceptually that’s the case if you borrow USD to buy the USD listed ETF which is basically 100% AUD assets anyway – it’s just less visible to you (unless I’m missing something?).

    I’m not sure on the aggregated dividend cover for the ASX 300 I’m afraid – it’s a good question. The Aussie market is heavily skewed to financials and materials. I really just started building a position after the AUD and the commodities markets collapsed. It’s a 5-10 year play for me. Commodities will rise from the dust at some point, as will the AUD. The yields are substantial, so the wait is hopefully not so painful. I have just been adding to my position on the dips. I was riding VGB as rates came down, but I think that party might be over and closed that out a few months back.

    VAS is just ASX 300, and VAP is property focussed. There are a selection of other ETFs on vanguard.com.au, but these were the only ones I found interesting (the others generally seemed to be smaller subsets of the ASX).

    VGAD is just a global equity ETF hedged back into AUD – so it’s basically a long AUD + Long global equities position.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really helpful, thanks. I think my iShares-orientated list was the only game in town 4-5 years ago but I haven’t been paying attention, although one ETF I do use (just added to my ETFs page, ahem) is VSO – Vanguard Small Ozzie companies.

      Driver for me is family, and spending 2-4 weeks per year there. I came to the view having $250k at 5% lets me rent a $1m holiday home – I always prefer assets to liabilities! I bought at the top of course but as you say the divi yields do soften the blow somewhat.

      My main concern is that absent mining, I don’t think there are any world class Oz businesses that are public (pace Macquarie, perhaps?). Thin investment pickings. And passively investing in non-world-class stuff isn’t very appealing.


      1. Hi FvL – are you holding VAS in your IB account? I was just digging through some of the transaction data and noticed that the latest payment on 17-Jul-18 was slapped with a 45% WHT. I have raised a ticket with IB to try and understand the root cause (is it something that changed in the regs, or is it something specific to me), but you might want to take a look and see if you were affected also.

        The description on the latest transaction was:
        VAS (AU000000VAS1) CASH DIVIDEND AUD 1.01729400 (AU Ord Div – no Subdivision 12-H notice – 45%)

        Previous dividends were marked like this:
        VAS (AU000000VAS1) CASH DIVIDEND AUD 0.66525600 (Mixed Income)

        The associated WHT transaction was based on the 45% rate for the latest div for me. If this is some new regulation, going to have to just close this out I think and move on. I can’t seem to find much about this 12H form, and can’t quite work out if it’s something I should have filled out, or it’s something Vanguard AU should have filled out. Either way, my account is quite a few k lighter, and the ATO’s is heavier by the same amount… :/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Looks like this was an oversight by Vanguard… I’ve started chasing them too via email but can’t call them today (I’m in Europe at the minute and didn’t quite make it out of bed in time).

        This was the response from IB (below), so in theory it should be resolved when Vanguard submit the relevant documentation, but resolution will then also require Vanguard to release the funds to IB, and then IB to release the additional funds to your account, so I have my doubts this will happen seamlessly and will probably require some chasing if you’ve been affected too.

        Thank you for contacting IBKR.

        For VAS dividend, the fund/ trust did not disclose its distribution breakdown and issue a notice pursuant to Section 12-395 of Schedule 1 of the Taxation Administration Act 1953. As a result, the distribution was processed as undisclosed taxable income and the highest applicable income tax rate 45% was charged to all non-resident custodian clients.

        If the fund will disclose such distribution breakdown and issue a notice pursuant to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 for this dividend later in the future, the fund should refund the excess withholding to us accordingly. Generally the company will announce a breakdown in Sep and if they do so, we will receive refunds within 1-2 weeks after. However, this is all up to the company itself.


      3. Dug a bit deeper with IB and apparently, once Vanguard have submitted the relevant paperwork and released the funds to IB, it should automatically flow to your account. I still haven’t heard back from Vanguard, but will give them a call at some point if I don’t get a response to my email. This is exactly the sort of thing that falls through the cracks… so best to keep an eye on it. For me it’s at least a few k usd, so worth chasing. More importantly, I want to make sure it doesn’t happen again moving forwards. Quite troubling that Vanguard could drop the ball on something like this.

        From IB:
        The refund is automatic, but it will take 1-2 weeks to process once / if VAS submits their disclosure later. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us again.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Update – Vanguard were releasing some updated form template, but then at the last minute needed to make changes, so missed the deadline, hence the additional WHT. So it should in theory be a one off. Still chasing IB about the refund (VG tells me they have released the paperwork to IB now).

        A while ago we discussed reasons for taking exposure to the Aus market and I noted population growth. Interesting related article on bloomberg here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-31/angst-swells-as-australian-population-nears-25-million


    2. This WHT issue was finally resolved by IB in the past couple of days. You should have seen some extra AUD drop into your account (unless they just fixed my account to get rid of me – I was chasing them regularly 🙂 ). If you look in the cash transaction data to reconcile, you need to look back at july, as they back dated the reversals.


      1. @Grasmi I have just checked this. So far as I can see all the 17 July WHT payments were reversed, on the same date (i.e. backdated?). On VAS, VGB and VSO. Happy days, I assume.


      2. Sounds right – but more importantly, you should have seen the extra AUD cash show up in your account a couple of weeks back!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t disagree on the world class businesses comment, although they must be doing something right – Australia has been the 2nd best performing equity market in real terms since 1900 – an annualised real return of 6.7% per year. I can’t help but think that some of it has to do with stifled competition there – e.g. major banks colluding and price gouging the market. The steady immigration should also hopefully help with steady growth, and to deal with the dependency ratio and ageing population. As long as world population growth continues, commodities should be in demand (should be safe until 2050-2075). For me it’s really a chance to buy at 20-30% off in USD terms compared to a few years ago. I think the pendulum will swing back eventually, at which point I’ll lighten the load, and in the meantime I’ll collect the ~5% yield. I like to buy things when they’re unloved, and Australia and commodities have certainly fit the bill over the past couple of years!



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I hear you. So if they are protectionist enough to deter better foreigners yes they can sustain margins and immigrate growth. In the meantime commodities is a good usp. I broadly concur hence my 5pc allocation.

      If you like buying unloved assets, what do you make of PSON right now…?


  5. PSON definitely falls into the unloved category! Value, or value trap – it’s difficult to say at this stage. Education is not really my area of expertise. From what I’ve read, some of those problems sound fairly structural, and they’re not the only company feeling the brunt of Amazon. In the right pair of hands it can probably be turned around. I’ve lost some fingers before trying to catch falling knives, so I try to let them bounce a couple of times first these days! One for the watch list for now.

    If you liked it a few weeks ago, I guess you must love it now at this price?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right that having bought at £8 I am even more interested at £6. But there is more info now, and less mgmt credibility. Assessing the knife more carefully I think it’s as much of a buy as it was at £8 but no more so.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have been watching TGT for a while now but I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger. Fully agree on the div history, but I just can’t see the end of the amzn situation. From many angles the trend is horrifying (unless your name is Jeff!). I’m sure it will stabilise at some point (and the market will inevitably have overshot), but I’m not brave enough to call a bottom just yet! Good luck with it.

    Glad to see the transition away from the higher fee Aus etfs is complete!


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Having just read your latest comments on P2P I have to agree. I have been waiting for over 95 days for my latest loan sale which is madness. Added to which it advertises a rate of 7.5% and I was only receiving 4.5% on over 530 loans.
    Another reason is the P2P industry is relatively new and hasn’t been through a recession so no-one really knows how it will fare. I’m taking all my money out now (or as soon as I can actually get it)!


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