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The Beginners’ Portfolio: Vodafone Group plc and Aviva plc are in the news

This article is the latest in a series that aims to help novice investors with the stock market. To enjoy past articles in the series, please visit our full archive.

The Beginners’ Portfolio is a virtual portfolio, with all costs, spreads and dividends accounted for. Transactions are for educational purposes only and do not constitute advice to buy or sell.

Since our last portfolio update, a few more of our holdings have been making the news — and its always good to keep an eye on what’s happening.

Vodafone

One of the main reasons I like Vodafone Group (LSE: VOD)(NASDAQ: VOD.US) is its international nature. And it looks like that market reach is paying off again, with Vodafone entering into a consortium with China Mobile to bid for a mobile telecommunications licence in Myanmar (Burma). It’s a great opportunity — a country of 60 million people finally entering the world’s open markets, and where mobile phone usage is still very low and horribly expensive.

Although it has been a bit erratic over the past year, the Vodafone share price is up 13% since we bought it, to 191p today — and we’re getting a dividend yield of 5-6% too, which is terrific. With a P/E of 12.5, I reckon Vodafone is still a strong ‘Buy’.

Aviva

Last week, Aviva (LSE: AV) announced the completion of the sale of its 49% stake in CIMB in Malaysia, for £152 million. It’s not massive news, but it does represent a step in the strategy of focusing on markets where Aviva enjoys competitive advantages and divesting itself of non-core businesses.

Aviva shares are down since we bought them, from our purchases price of 321.4p to today’s 297.5p. But we’ve only had them a month and the fallout from the firm’s slashed final dividend is barely subsiding.

With the rebased dividend looking likely to be close to 5% for the coming year, and the shares on forward P/E of only 7, Aviva still screams ‘Buy’ to me.

Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) suffered a setback at its Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah, after a slide of more than 150 million tonnes of material halted production and will adversely affect copper production for the year. But in positive news, we also heard of record first-quarter iron ore production.

The share price? Well, mining shares have all been in a slide of late due to fears of falling commodities prices. Rio Tinto is down just 1% since we bought, to 3,015p. But short-term prices in this sector don’t matter much. This still looks like a long-term bargain to me.

Blinkx

And finally on to our biggest success story so far, video technology expert Blinkx (LSE: BLNX). The firm struck a new deal earlier this month with XOS Digital, which will “give Blinkx users access to a wide array of original and high-quality sports content”.

The share price has fallen back a little since its recent peak, but at 80.25p we’re still nearly 120% up on the deal! And I think Blinkx has plenty more growth potential.

Nearly a year

How time flies! It’s nearly a year since the Beginners’ Portfolio chose its first share — Vodafone on 18 May 2012. Next month I’ll be bringing you a first anniversary update — when we’ll be able to look back on Tesco’s results, due tomorrow.

Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Vodafone. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.