BP plc (LON: BP), GlaxoSmithKline plc (LON: GSK) and Vodafone Group plc (LON: VOD) all bring us news.
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We've had some important news from some of our Beginners' Portfolio shares, so it's time for an update:
BP (LSE: BP) released annual results on 5 February, bringing to an end a pretty tough year. Underlying replacement cost profit came in at $17.6 billion, down on 2011's $21.7 billion, while operating cash flow dropped to $20.4 billion from $22.2 billion. But net debt fell, from $31.5 billion to $27.5 billion, putting the firm's gearing, at 18%, near the top end of its target range of 10-20%. There will be a quarterly dividend of 9 cents per share, payable in March. The price has fallen a little to 447p.
Chief executive Bob Dudley said: "We have moved past many milestones in 2012, repositioning BP through divestments and bringing on new projects. This lays a solid foundation for growth into the long term." And I'm happy with that -- with the shares still on a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of only 8 and with a dividend yield of 5% expected for 2013, BP is still a firm 'buy' for me.
Results from GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) followed on 6 February, and they were pretty much in line with expectations. Overall sales were flat, with reported earnings per share down a little. But it's the long term that I'm interested in, which I really think is the only way to approach a company like this.
During the year, GlaxoSmithKline filed six new drugs, with 14 sets of Phase III data expected this year and next. And the firm has reiterated its strategy of returning cash to shareholders, after spending £2.5 billion on share buybacks, and lifting its full-year dividend by 5.7% to 74p per share for a yield of 5% on the current share price of 1,473p. Long-term buy and hold, that's what this is.
We had a third-quarter update from Vodafone Group (LSE: VOD) (NASDAQ: VOD.US) on 7 February. European troubles weighed heavily upon service revenue, which declined by 2.6% overall, as expected -- UK service revenue was down 5%. But that was offset by an 18% rise in Turkey and 9% in India. Data revenues were up 8.7%, supported by Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless.
Vodafone confirmed its full-year guidance, which puts the shares on a forward P/E of 11 based on the current share price of 167p. And perhaps more importantly, we have a dividend yield of a very nice 6.2% forecast, which should be safe.
There's more news today, as Vodafone announced a strategic five-year partnership with BAE Systems, itself a member of the Beginners' portfolio, and there has also been recent speculation that Vodafone might launch a bid for German cable operator Kabel Deutschland.
Neil Woodford, the highly successful manager of the Invesco Perpetual High Income fund, might have sold his Vodafone shares. But I'm holding.
We had another share price surge from Blinkx (LSE: BLNX) after the video technologist revealed, on 11 February, that full-year sales could be ahead of target. After a "strong" third quarter, the firm is now expecting sales for the 12 months to March to be in the range of $180 million to $185 million.
The Blinkx share price has been more erratic that I think the company's fundamental performance deserves, but we have been through scary economic times when many people shied away from risk. We were fortunate to add Blinkx shares to the portfolio at 37p, near their 12-month low, especially as the price is now standing at 86p.
We shouldn't dwell too much on portfolio performance at this early stage, but so far we're up around 19% since inception -- although without Blinkx, that would drop to a gain of about 8%.
Finally, as you know, I consider income from dividends to be a core part of a long-term portfolio -- whether you take the income as cash or reinvest it in more shares, there's nothing wrong with good old cash, whatever your strategy.
And that's why I recommend the latest Fool report, "The Motley Fool’s Top Income Share For 2013", in which our top analysts identify a share that they believe will provide handsome dividend income for years to come.
> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Vodafone.