Portfolio updates and a review of the year to date

To date and without meaning to jinx things, 2021 to date has been kind. I hope it has for anyone reading this as well. I suspect this is no small part just due to optimism around the economy reopening and the broader economic support for economies from central banks. The FTSE 100 even breached the 7,000 mark for a brief period. Only time will be able to tell what kind of bubble this could be creating, but for now it’s worth enjoying the gains.

Since the start if the year I’ve added a few more growth shares, as well as a couple of high yielding investment trusts. Further down is a full roundup of the shares I own.

Changes to the portfolio

While April was a very quiet month in terms of buying and selling, March was busier. That month, I added four new holdings Middlefield Canadian and CQS New City High Yield for yield and then two artificial intelligence (AI) stocks: IXICO and Blue Prism. The latter I bought after it dipped and don’t intend to hold for that long. It’s loss-making and I think there’s a lot of competition in robotic process automation, which is what it specialises in. I prefer the more niche, healthcare focused IXICO. As mentioned in my blog on AI shares, I’m also positive on RenalytixAI and for now it remains on the watchlist.

The highest conviction of my buys was IXICO, although that has been tested a little since I bought in as I’ll explain later.

Ironically so far, and admittedly after a very short period of time, the new income shares are outperforming recently added growth shares. My hope is that over a longer timeframe, say 3-5 years, that will be reversed and IXICO and other growth-focused shares I hold, will do much better.

Portfolio holdings

CompanyEPICNo of sharesShare price (at time of writing)
Merchants TrustMRCH1,216506p
Legal & GeneralLGEN1,757272p
HSBC FTSE ALL World IndexNA1839.61227.15p
National GridNG363910p
Polar CapitalPOLR409766p
Murray InternationalMYI2221,212p
Reckitt BenckiserRB416,440p
HSBC S&P 500 ETFHSPX773,054p
Brunner Investment TrustBUT232944p
Middlefield CanadianMCT1609103p
Artemis SmartGARP Global EquityNA441.414365.33p
db X-trackers Russell 2000 ETFXRSG623,289p
Invesco Asia TrustIAT275377p
Blue PrismPRSM751,226p
CQS New City High YieldNCYF101354p
Marlborough UK Micro-Cap GrowthNA11.971,189p
Lindsell Train Global EquityNA43.431290.98p
Income Investor full equity holdings

As can be seen from the table above I now have 21 equity holdings with some cash in my accounts as well, which I plan to keep for if and when markets fall back again.

Recent updates from shares

As alluded to, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster with IXICO so far. On the 15th March, it announced a partnership with Microsoft which saw the shares leap, making my purchase the day before the announcement look very fortuitous. However, my shares went into negative territory on news that its largest client had stopped dosing participants in its phase III Huntington’s disease trial.

When the shares fell I neither sold nor added. Not a course of action recommended in The Art of Execution I know, but so far, it’s been a more profitable decision than selling. Now I’m back into a small profit on my holding in IXICO.

The shares despite that negative news remain one of my highest conviction holdings. It won’t be a surprise then that as it stands, I intend to hold them for a long time, on the belief that AI will make significant inroads into the healthcare industry (and indeed other sectors) in the coming years. That could in my opinion lift sentiment around the AI industry generally (see what happened to hydrogen shares in 2020 to see examples of how positive news flow and attention can lift a whole industry), and particularly around IXICO as an established player.

On 30th April, AstraZeneca reported sales for the first three months of the year of $7.3bn – up some 15% on the same period last year. Core earnings per share rose 55% to $1.63 and the company reiterated its full-year guidance for core EPS between $4.75 and $5. Total revenue included $275m of pandemic Covid-19 vaccine sales.

The pharma giant maintains an impressive pipeline, focused primarily on oncology, which could translate into blockbuster drugs in the future. I’ll continue to hold it and back management.

On 28th April Persimmon announced that its year-to-date forward sales position had improved 23% year-on-year despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Persimmon said its current forward sales position, including year-to-date legal completions, was £3.0bn – up from roughly £2.4bn at the same time a year ago.

The strategy of focusing on build quality doesn’t seem to be hurting shareholder returns any longer and I think the management is doing a pretty decent job, although I think they’ve got a lot to thank the Chancellor for.

This is a share I’ve held for a long time. Probably longer than I expected. I’ve reduced my stake this year but given the buoyancy of the housing market, even in a pandemic, I’m unlikely to sell any further. The shares have been doing well. Any further rotation from growth to value should also help the share price.

On 28th April, Reckitt (formerly Reckitt Benckiser) reported a “good start” to the year, with group like-for-like net revenue rising 4.1% to £3.51bn. In its hygiene division, Reckitt reported like-for-like growth of 28.5% to £1.64bn, led by “very strong” demand and white space expansion for Lysol, with double-digit growth in Finish, Air Wick and across most of its regions. The health and nutrition divisions though saw declines, of 13% and 7.4% respectively.

Other possible additions to the portfolio

I haven’t been doing as much stock research recently as I’ve been finalising buying my first house. That partly explains why April was so quiet on the investing front, along with markets going up meaning less opportunities to buy shares on the cheap as I prefer.

I still have a long watchlist though with some of the following shares likely to make it into my portfolio in future: Belvoir Group, RenalytixAI, 4D Pharma, MPAC, Venture Life, Sylvania Platinum and K3 Capital.

If anyone has thoughts on these, that they’d be keen to share, please do get in touch either through this website or via Twitter.

Wishing you all the best and hopefully markets keep going up.

As a reminder these are my finance and investing plans for this year.

If you like this post you can see my previous update from January 2021.

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