It's just before the half way stage, but there are some huge gainers in our annual share picking competition.
May is gone, and that brought with it the latest update on the world-famous Paulypilot's Pub Annual Share Competition (well, it's world-famous round these parts, anyway).
At the end of May, of the 112 entrants in the competition, 100 of them were in profit, so they must be a pretty knowledgeable bunch in the pub. A total of 155 companies were selected, as each entrant could pick either one or two shares, and 121 of these are in profit.
That's pretty impressive considering that the FTSE 100 index is still down on its starting position for 2009. However, the indices that measure smaller companies, which is what the vast majority of these picks are, have done a lot better. The FTSE Smallcap index is up some 24% while the FTSE Fledging index is an astonishing 43% higher.
Goldies and oilies
When economies falter and confidence in manufacturers, retailers, banks and governments falters, people have traditionally rushed to invest in shiny things, so it's not surprising to see that quite a few of today's front runners are in the mining and exploration sector, digging for gold, minerals, oil and gas, and all the earthly raw materials that drive the economy. Central African Mining & Exploration (LSE: CFM), chosen by cpatts, heads the list with a return to date of more than 400%. It's perhaps ironic that such a nice bit of analysis concluded with the comment "I looked at the fundamentals and they seemed ok but after reading more about the company I don't think I would recommend them to anyone". It's not a bad choice at all for someone who's new to investing.
Keeping an eye on us
One entry that strikes me as a good investment is the choice of the pub landlord himself, Paulypilot. He went for Indigo Vision (LSE: IND), a company that supplies leading-edge surveillance and monitoring equipment to the ever-growing ranks of the security-conscious. Ever been spied on by video cameras at a hotel, airport, or industrial complex? There's a fair chance those were Indigo Vision cameras recording your every movement.
Indigo Vision is a company I've always liked, tipping the shares for recovery back in March. The landlord already had them in the competition, but I like to think of myself as being vicariously in 25th place. It's just such a shame I didn't buy any.
It's also nice to see another company I wrote about in that same article, Tanfield (LSE: TAN), helping aimupwards achieve 39th place with a nice return of 92% so far.
The stock market hasn't exactly been heaven for shorters recently, so it's not surprising to see most short positions doing badly so far. Frontera Resources (LSE: FRR) is the only one that is in the money, netting a nice profit for RBCRBC. But a 125% loss from a short position in Imagelinx (LSE: ILI) has earned DearLeader bottom rung on the ladder so far, although a 50% punt on Aminex (LSE: AEX) has helped rein in the extent of the loss.
I can't help noticing TMF's own editor in 12th place with a dual selection of Plant Impact (LSE: PIM) and DSG International (LSE: DSGI). Hmm, last time I passed his desk, I'm sure I noticed an FT and a box of pins [Editor's note: Sounds a bit advanced for me!]
I'm also surprised by a few companies in the list that are doing better than I would have expected. Jessops (LSE: JSP), the well-known high street camera shop, is a company that I expected to be hit hard by a combination of the economic downturn and increasing competition from online sellers. But, despite a strange mini-boom (which seems hard to explain) in May, followed by an equally rapid fall (less hard), the company is still helping AwoodbMaven to a profitable placing.
Another company I really expected to hit the skids some time, as people turn their noses up at the way it monitors our surfing habits, is Phorm (LSE: PHRM). But the company is doing nicely so far for arch-supporter HamsterWheel, who's sitting on a 64% gain.
Are you taking part?
I could go on all day, but I'll close by offering my congrats to all who've been bold enough to nail their colours to, erm, whatever it is you nail colours to.
Even if you didn't join in, it's a lot of fun to follow -- you might even pick up some ideas for next year's competition. Our thanks go to NotherHubbard, who is running the competition and posting regular monthly updates.
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