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The Beginners’ Portfolio Gets A Boost From Apple Inc.

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, which is run as if based on real money with all costs, spreads and dividends accounted for.

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Our latest big news is that I’ve dumped Vodafone (LSE: VOD) (NASDAQ: VOD.US) from the portfolio, largely because I consider its value to have outed and I don’t think the shares are good value now, and also because of the complications that look to be coming its way. You can read more about the decision here.

After the sale, how is the our valuation looking?

On 11 October we were up 50.9%, and since then we’ve made further progress while the FTSE has slipped a bit. As of 13 December, we’re on to a 64.3% gain:

Company Shares Buy Cost Bid Value Change %
Vodafone 289 168.5p £499.51 233.9p £665.97 +£166.46 33.3%
Tesco 159 305.5p £498.23 325p £506.75 +£8.52 1.7%
GSK 34 1,440.5p £502.33 1,570.5p £523.97 +£21.75 4.3%
Persimmon 79 617.9p £500.55 1,133p £885.07 +384.52 76.8%
Blinkx 1,319 36.9p £499.68 194.5p £2,555 +£2,056 411.4%
BP 112 434.5p £499.01 470.5p £516.96 +£17.95 3.6%
Rio Tinto 16 3,048.4p £500.18 3,192p £500.72 +£0.54 0.1%
BAE 146 332.3p £497.59 420p £603.20 +£105.61 21.2%
Apple 2 $458.40 £605.98 $561.90 £671.95 +£65.97 10.9%
Aviva 146 321.4p £499.71 418.2p £600.57 +£102.86 20.7%
Dividends         £291.29 £291.29  
Total         £8,380.25 £3,279.59 64.3%

We’ve actually reached another milestone here too — it’s our first valuation when all 10 of our shares are in positive territory on a capital basis (ignoring dividends). Sure, Rio Tinto is only 54p in profit, but I’ll take that. And it does show how long it can take to reach such an occasion, as it’s been around 18 months since we started this portfolio.

Apple up!

appleI’m especially pleased to see Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL.US) in the black, with the shares up a very nice 23% to $561.90 since they were selected at $458.40.

But it’s sobering to see that once we take into account charges (which are higher for dealing in US shares) and exchange rate movements, we’d see only a 10.9% capital gain in sterling if we sold at this price. Unless you think there’s a real bargain to be had, I’d suggest £500 is probably too small an allocation of funds for buying on overseas markets.

I do expect greater things from Apple, and it’s a firm ‘Hold’ in the portfolio.

Tesco Q3 disappoints

tescoWe’ve had news from Tesco (LSE: TSCO) (NASDAQOTH: TSCDY.US), in the form of a third-quarter statement showing total sales growth of just 0.6% — coming on the heels of a 4.4% jump in sales at rival J Sainsbury at its interim stage!

With UK sales up just 0.9% and like-for-like sales down 1.5%, Tesco’s latest figures are a disappointment. In fact, I’m a little disappointed in Tesco overall, as I really thought we’d have seen better recovery progress by now.

The firm has upgraded a further 180 stores and has enjoyed record online grocery orders, which are both good. But we also heard that “International conditions remain challenging” — and its overseas business is part of what attracted me to Tesco.

But it’s still the UK’s biggest groceries seller by far, the shares are on a forward P/E of a modest 10.5 and there’s a 4.4% dividend forecast — I’m happy to take that while I’m waiting for the business to pick up. Tesco is still a ‘Hold’.

Overall, I’m happy with the way things are going.

If you want to discuss our latest valuation, the disposal of Vodafone or anything else relating to this portfolio, you’d be welcome on the Beginners’ Portfolio discussion board.

And finally...

I'm considering replacing Vodafone with a bank! I think banks can be rather complicated beasts for beginners to understand, and their annual accounts can be about as easy to understand as a Stephen Hawking paper.

But the Fool's experts have just produced the "Fool’s Guide to Investing in Banks", which takes a look at the UK's top five, so I'm going to be perusing that for starters and see if I can make a beginner's decision.

You can get ahead of me by clicking here to get your own copy.

> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Tesco and Apple, and has recommended shares in GlaxoSmithKline.