Kevin Goldstein-Jackson: Sipp expected to see yo-yo effect

In the period January 1 to February 29 my self-invested personal pension (Sipp) scheme’s portfolio (including cash) increased in value by 2.47 per cent. During that period no shares were bought or sold because generally I buy shares with the aim of longer term growth rather than quick “in-and-out” deals.

Best performers included small Aim-listed real estate/leisure project company Oak Holdings which rose from 38.5p to 43.5p per share; Avocet Mining (with gold mines in Malaysia and Indonesia) up from 176.5p to 200p and two companies that have benefited from improved market sentiment on their oil interests in the Falklands: Westmount Energy (up from 82.5p
to 101p) and Falkland Islands Holdings (up from 337.5p to 430p).

Poor performers included industrial engineering group Weir (down from 809.5p to 775p) with the worst performer being Aim-listed pharmaceuticals company ImmuPharma, which plummeted from 70p to 50p.

However, my Sipp’s holding in ImmuPharma is very small as I originally bought shares in the company for 25p each when it was known as General Industries and took some profits at 46p and 69p per share in 2006 and 2007 respectively so my remaining shareholding effectively cost less than nothing. I expect continuing market uncertainties to cause yo-yo effects to many of my Sipp’s holdings.

Nick louth: Bank shares still largest holding

The first quarter of 2008 has been an awkward and difficult one for my portfolio. Although I have almost exactly half my portfolio in cash, the other constituents have somewhat underperformed the market as a whole, as many of them are small-cap shares.

I have sold some of the bank sector bargains I acquired in the depths of market weakness into this week’s rally, which I do not expect to endure. On most of these I made a profit. This leaves my holding of banking shares at 9 per cent of the portfolio, still my largest sectoral holding.

My largest individual holding, Dawnay Day Carpathian, represents about 7 per cent of the portfolio, and at current depressed prices its dividend yield is 13 per cent.

My overall return for the quarter is minus 9.7 per cent, with a 12 per cent fall in the UK, which represents 83 per cent of the portfolio, and a 1 per cent positive return in the US. I have not adjusted currency rates since the end of 2007, so this is a raw performance figure, and has been boosted by the hedging exercise I described in last week’s column.

John Lee: Palm oil profits almost fivefold

With a depressing economic backdrop, and given that virtually all my portfolio is in small-cap stocks, it is not surprising to find that I have suffered a 16.5 per cent value reduction in the first quarter of 2008.

Once again I have not been helped by the deterioration in Pochins, the north-west building services/property developer. This is a particularly large holding that has fallen from 240p to 180p – or 25 per cent. Essentially the story has been a steady downward drift in most prices as investors either went liquid or switched into the large cap sector. Others have sold to take advantage of the lower effective 10 per cent capital gains tax rate before it rises to 18 per cent post April 6. This latter factor has been particularly noticeable in Aim stocks, Christie Group and Gooch & Housego, where we were all sitting on big profits.

However many underlying individual trading performances have been encouraging with good profits growth and dividend increases from holdings such as Clarkson, James Fisher, PZ Cussons, Quarto and FW Thorpe; poor trading on the other hand produced falls in the likes of Litho and Titon.

On the takeover front a breakdown of talks saw a fall in stockbrokers WH Ireland compensated by a good rise in builders merchants, Gibbs & Dandy, where talks continue. My most significant transaction this quarter has been the sale of my last tranche of palm oil producer MP Evans, where I have seen a near quintupling of my 2002 investment following the substantial rise in the price of palm oil. New holdings this quarter include Interior Services, Norcros, Northbridge Industrial Services and Peel Hotels.

Peter Temple: Gold stash up by 11 per cent

It is hard to think of as sustained a period of worrying markets since the 1970s. My portfolio has not escaped unscathed. Its total value is down by 4.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2008, versus a drop in the market of 12.4 per cent.

That performance, which is nonetheless painful, has been helped by a couple of other factors. One is that I have been steadily pruning my list of equities since last August’s initial sub-prime debacle and holding more cash than previously. The second is that I did a partial switch out of index tracking funds and into a fund of gold shares in August.

Holdings in bond and income funds have also held up well and the sterling value of my gold bullion stash is also up by 11 per cent since the start of the year. Both gold shares and bullion gained appreciably a couple of weeks ago when gold hit $1,000 an ounce.

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