5 shares that Fools wish they’d bought

As investors, when we hear “the one that got away”, many of us will immediately think of shares we wanted to buy but never got round to…

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This list isn’t necessarily about the biggest gainers since our contributors considered buying the shares, but more about highlighting things they didn’t appreciate at the time but now do — emphasising the importance of continual learning!

CVS Group

What it does: CVS Group runs veterinary practices, diagnostic businesses, pet crematoria, and an online retail business 

By Paul Summers: My decision not to buy shares in veterinary services provider CVS Group (LSE: CVSG) a few years back still remains a big regret.

In 2019, I had an opportunity to snap up the stock at a bargain price. Investors were jumping ship as the firm struggled to recruit suitably qualified staff in a post-Brexit jobs market. As a result, salaries were hiked to get the best talent, impacting the bottom line.

Since then, the stock has multi-bagged.

But it’s not just about the missed gains. My annoyance is down to not trusting my instincts that these headwinds were temporary. I’ve learned that most businesses related to pet ownership tend to be fairly resilient. 

The problem is that this now looks priced in. A forecast P/E of 22 for FY24 isn’t cheap. The dividend yield is also so low that it won’t really compensate for any share price falls from here.

Paul Summers has no position in CVS Group.

easyJet

What it does: easyJet is a low-cost airline operator that flies mostly short-haul services into Europe.

By Jon Smith. I remember looking at easyJet (LSE:EZJ) shares during the holiday season at the end of 2022 around 350p. I had a hunch that the airline sector could do well in 2023, with continued pent-up demand from consumers. The recovery had been stalling due to spiking jet fuel prices and the general cost-of-living crisis. 

easyJet shares are up 30% from that December period, as a positive trading statement in January identified that it was expecting to beat full-year profit expectations. Further, the May trading update confirmed this summer it expects to be back at pre-pandemic levels of capacity. 

There are still risks associated with the business. Fundamentally, it’s still posting losses before tax in the hundreds of millions of pounds, which isn’t sustainable. Yet I feel the tide has turned and wish I had bought the shares last year for my portfolio.

Jon Smith does not own shares in easyJet

Greggs

What it does: Greggs is a popular UK-based food-on-the-go bakery chain that has over 2,000 stores across the country.

fool_stock_chart ticker=[LSE:GRG]

By Matthew Dumigan. One stock I wish I’d been brave enough to buy midway through last year is Greggs (LSE:GRG). At its lowest point in 2022, the food retailer’s shares traded at 1,712p. Today, they’re up by over 60%.

At the time, I failed to appreciate that despite inflation taking a toll on its profits, the company remained in a solid position looking ahead.

For example, one of the company’s key strengths is that it’s a low-budget option, which was always likely to result in greater resilience in trading than many might have otherwise expected during a cost-of-living crisis.

That said, there are plenty of uncertainties ahead for Greggs. For example, an even sharper economic slump would certainly cause some pain if a shop-bought lunch turns into a luxury that people are willing to forego.

Ultimately, while I certainly wouldn’t rule out even more upside over the long term, I think the strong share performance in recent months means growth prospects are beginning to look priced in.

Matthew Dumigan does not own shares in Greggs.

Judges Scientific

What it does: Judges Scientific owns a variety of small and medium-sized specialist instrument makers

By Christopher Ruane. Over the past few years, I have repeatedly looked at the share price of Judges Scientific (LSE: JDG) and decided that it was overvalued. Currently, it trades on a price-to-earnings ratio of 50.

Despite my valuation concerns, the shares are up 22% in the past year alone. Over five years, they have more than tripled.

Judges has a Buffett-like business model. A central office allocates capital and expertise to a range of operating companies that are then largely left to do their own thing. Scientific instruments require precision, so quality matters. That gives Judges pricing power. Its disciplined valuation approach when acquiring businesses has helped it grow quickly but profitably.

The valuation still puts me off. Risks include a recession hurting customers’ budgets, leading to lower sales for Judges.

Over the long term, though, Judges has created enormous shareholder value. I wish I had bought in early on!

Christopher Ruane does not own shares in Judges Scientific.

National Grid

What it does: National Grid owns and operates the electricity grid in the UK. It also distributes gas in parts of the USA.

By James Beard. Nearly five years ago I didn’t buy shares in National Grid (LSE:NG.). I thought there were more exciting opportunities elsewhere.

I now regret this.

Others have performed better, but I should’ve included the stock in my ISA and forgotten about it. Because it has guaranteed revenues with no competitors, its share price tends to be less volatile. It has a beta value of 0.29, which means if the wider stock market loses 10%, it’ll fall (on average) by less than 3%.

Stocks with these defensive properties are missing from my portfolio.

I’d have also received some steadily increasing dividends — up 17% since 2019.

However, due to changes in UK tax laws, earnings per share are likely to be around 10% lower this year. And its monopoly status means it’s a regulated business, making it vulnerable to changes in government policy.

But I’ve learned that slow and steady sometimes wins the race.

James Beard does not own shares in National Grid.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

The Motley Fool UK has recommended Judges Scientific Plc. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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