The year that was 2019…

In Summary my overall portfolio is up by 21% for 2019 🙂

Number of Trades

Buy Trades 44 – (24 Different companies bought the rest of the trades were topping up existing holdings)

Sell Trades 30 (25 Different companies sold)

I have been adding capital to my portfolio throughout the year so this means I am buying into some new stocks and adding to existing holdings that are doing well and averaging up. I very rarely average down unless I am sure the market is mispricing something or over reacting.

In 2020 I will be adding another block of capital to my accounts, my biggest worry is finding quality companies that are not overpriced after this late rally in 2019. I will slowly follow the market and drip the money in as I see potential opportunities arise. In general I remain fully invested at all times.

Broker Charges

Charges for the year came to £435.50 – because I have 3 different accounts there are various fees… I expect fees to be less in 2020 as I have moved my SIPP from Barclays Stockbrokers to Interactive Investor along with my ISA. With ii I now pay 9.99 per month to cover both my ISA and my SIPP. I had the corporate account with Interactive investor also but for corporate accounts they pushed the fees up significantly so I quickly moved that to Hargreaves Lansdown Fund and Share account which has no fees except the 11.95 commission per trade.


Dividends received were around 2.2% on Cash invested at the end of the year.

Profit Warnings/Short attacks

I suppose I can’t really grumble that I have had only 2 profit warnings that I can think of this year. Recruitment specialist Robert Walters and Social housing Software provider Castleton Technology. I kept my holding in both but am keeping a close eye on especially Castleton to see if they can turn things around at next update otherwise they will have to go. I am sitting at -33% on Castleton as I write so that is really at the limit of what I will allow.

EDIT: Just sold Castleton (Loss of 32.6%) as I want to start the new year without this low conviction holding – as ever it could outperform in the coming year but when I ask myself the question – Would I buy CTP now? the answer is no. Their PE is good but they have low margin low yield and I am just not convinced. They are changing over to SaaS model but this can take years to tyrn around and bear fruit as I have previously experienced with ECK Eckoh Technology who done the same.

My biggest disaster this year happened in December with Muddy Waters targeting NMC Health with a short attack. NMC Heath has been a long term holding of mine since I bought at £7.88 in October 2015. Earlier this month it had been sitting around £25 so was at a healthy profit and I still intended to hold it long term.

A bit like with Burford Capital the Muddy waters attack sent the share price reeling and by the time I noticed anything the price was already down to £20 my immediate thought was should I sell immediately and I can always buy back in at a lower point. To cut a long story short I didn’t and thought I would wait for a sturdy rebuttal from the company. The rebuttal came after the market closed the following day but so did an accusation from the FT that NMC had been trying to raise another 200m off balance sheet.

The price continued in freefall until I finally said enough was enough and sold at £12.40! I didn’t want to end up in a loss after the good run that I had. According to SharePad which I use to track my portfolio at the moment, I had made 27% on the investment in NMC.

NMC have since announced an independent investigation into the allegations against them which has boosted the price back up to just below £18 – painful to watch. However When I look at my portfolio performance overall for the year it helps me forget the pain! This one incident has pretty much wiped out my gains in my SIPP account this year.


SciSys Plc which I bought in November 2018 for 166p was taken over for 254p giving a 53% return including dividends.

Checkit Plc formerly known as EKT Electron Technology bought back 90% of my shares after they sold off their Bulgin connector business this gave a return of 51% I then sold the remaining shares as they weren’t enough to remain a core holding and I had still to be convinced on their strategy going forward. Overall return was 46%

General Performance/Comment

In 2019 I have been increasing the size of my portfolio so that has meant pretty steady buying as I feed money in, 2020 will be more of the same.

I have a portfolio of rental properties and my general plan is to increase my Stock market holdings to match or exceed the rental portfolio value. This should hopefully help diversify my overall portfolio and all being well boost my return on Investment. In my experience you are doing well to achieve 5 or 6% income from each property so this should be an easy figure to exceed with an average return from the stock market. (Hopefully!)

Of course the value of property can appreciate in value but I look at that as a bonus. The beauty of the share holdings is that you can liquidate your position in seconds (in most cases, if you don’t hold really illiquid stocks) whereas with property it can take months or even years! I have a property on the market since January 2019 and hopefully it will complete in Jan 2020 all being well… so as you can see it’s certainly not overnight!

I have tried to hold myself to a maximum of 35 stocks so that has resulted in larger positions than I would have typically held.

My top ten holdings at the end of December and their current overall returns are as follows (taken from Sharepad Portfoilio tracker)

  • Future PLC +68%
  • Arcontech Group PLC +9%
  • Belvoir Group PLC +37%
  • AB Dynamics PLC +45%
  • Sylvania Platinum Ltd +33.8%
  • SDI Group PLC +63.2%
  • Ten Entertainment Group PLC +31.7%
  • Rockrose Energy PLC +5.2%
  • Boohoo Group PLC +12.8%
  • The SimplyBiz Group PLC +12%

I am very happy with my return this year of 21% overall. It is more than I expected at the start of the year with all the uncertainty. I would love to work out previous years returns, surely this is possible in Sharepad without a massive amount of work? Maybe some of you pros can give me a tip on this? If NMC didn’t crash or if I hadn’t sold them at least, this return would have been better but no point in crying over spilt milk…

If I took the time I could analyse and comment a lot more but I have too much else to do sorry! I’m planning to try and keep better notes in the coming year so I can refer back to them for summaries like this…

Special thanks to…

  • PI World whose videos provide interesting and relevant interviews and content. Also because Tamzin deserves a medal for her efforts at Mello this year to get people to use the microphone and get a decent recording behind the scenes.
  • Pete whose back catalogue of Investment related interviews has kept me occupied on my daily commute typically 1hr to get home with traffic…
  • Also Twin Petes podcast is a interesting listen with the infamous @WheelieDealer
  • Thanks to Graham Neary and Paul Scott for the insightful Daily small cap report on Stockopedia and Grahams more Mid cap orientated site I again especially enjoy Grahams podcasts and it was nice to meet this fellow Irish investor at Mello
  • Thanks to all the other Twitter guys and girls too many to mention who post relevant and considered tweets and the odd not so relevant but amusing tweet.

Also thanks to the Investment tool providers that I use for now (unfortunately I have to pay for them though 🙁 )

Any questions on anything let me know and I will do my best to answer otherwise thanks for reading and have a Happy and prosperous new year!

You can follow me on twitter just click the link on the left menu my username is @investorjohnuk I don’t post that much because someone else usually beats me to it with company news releases etc so you won’t be spammed with tweets!

Published by

Investor John

Investing as a Private investor John has shown success over the last 20 years with a straight forward common sense approach to investing - He can help you to learn and will gladly share his knowledge to get you started.

3 thoughts on “The year that was 2019…”

  1. John,
    Can you tell me whether you will choose investopedia or Sharepad as the sole data supplier?
    Colin Farrier

    1. Hi Colin – Thanks for the comment

      The short answer to your question is that if I had to choose 1 provider I would probably choose Stockopedia.

      However in reality it is not that simple… As I mentioned above I currently use 3 providers namely ADVFN, Stockopedia and Sharepad

      I use ADVFN for Live prices, Level 2 Data and Portfolio tracking

      I use Stockopedia for ideas and screens and for the data layout which lends itself to speedy analysis of fundamentals.

      I started using Sharepad at the end of last year and although I have said that it is not very user friendly, I would say that its portfolio tracking is the best I have seen anywhere and they have a more complete set of Data available for example including Directors/Institution holdings and many more detailed facts and figures that I would also miss.

      In summary I expect to not renew my ADVFN subscription in February when it falls due. I will use some of this cost saving (>£500 Per annum) to upgrade my monthly Sharepad subscription to include the Live pricing and Level 2 data that I will loose from ADVFN. I will see how that goes for a few months… I will miss ADVFN for its Top lists and its clear presentation of prices but nothing ventured nothing gained.

      Hope this helps?


  2. Hi John,
    I understand your comments about Sharepad being not user friendly.
    I was in that position 3 years ago – but having been surviving on the static REFS I was determined to master it and I am still learning. The help files can guide you on several different aspects of Sharepad. For me The move from the static REFS to the dynamic Sharepad drove a huge accounts understanding learning curve. I did have some prior understanding of company accounts. If you think that I may help you please let me know. Colin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.