Diary of a DIY Investor 2015

DIY Investor’s Tame DIY Investor ‘Humbug’ – 2015 Diary Archive


DIY Investor’s tame DIY Investor sets out with £50,000 to invest and a target of 20% returns trading mainly small cap stocks; his diary is frank and brutally honest.

Think I’ve turned into Scrooge, instead of being out on the town I’m sitting in counting my money. For various reasons its been a while since I updated my column, so here goes.


In the summer I took the view that I’d got a bit swept up with events and because I was writing for the magazine I was forcing trades and also over trading. This was stupid, as its a brilliant way to transfer your money to other people, so I decided to stop being a berk and calm things right down.


I was in Norfolk sailing my boat and came ashore to get supplies. In a Tesco (of all places) there was a charity book sale and for 30p I bought ‘The intelligent Investor’ by Benjamin Graham. He’s the guy who taught Warren Buffett how to invest, now why he wanted to write a book God only knows, but he did and its a blinder.


His book convinced me to change direction, to be less of a gun slinger looking for momentum to trade and sell  on to the next (and bigger) fool. Instead I’ve learnt slow down, research companies in even more detail looking for under priced value, to cut things more slack when I don’t get the timing quite right and above all to have patience and hold for at least the medium term.


Since the start of the current financial year I’ve closed the following positions.


  • Amlin (AML) to a takeover bid.                                       profit of £1521.70
  • Anpario (ANP) ran out of steam                                      profit of £139.2
  • Carillion (CLLN) mistake                                                     loss of    £21.50
  • Entertainment One (ETO) mistake                                  loss of    £661.39
  • NCC Group (NCC) price became toppy                           profit of £813.55
  • Paragon (PAG) ran out of steam                                      profit of £36.50
  • Poundland Group (PLND) mistake                                   loss of    £84.0
  • Redde (REDD) price became toppy                                 profit of £882.3
  • Sepura (SEPU) price became toppy                                 profit of £660.22
  • Tristel (TSTL) price became toppy                                 profit of  £772.64
  • GVC Holdings (GVC) mistake                                          profit of  £128.96


Total nett profit of £4188.25 in addition there are running nett profits of £8813.41 from the current open positions.


I don’t for one second want to get cocky, but to say the least 2015 went rather better than 2014.

Here is my review of my first year – crap is the word, utter crap. Given that I invest and trade almost full time, I look for a total return of 20% a year, in this portfolio I’ve failed totally. I opened the file at the beginning of last April with £50k of my money and all the buy and sell trades reported each month happened exactly as I reported them.


Crystalized losses for the year are £6278.60 whilst the rolling profit on my current open positions is £2548.56 making an overall loss to date of £3730.04 or 7.46% of my starting capital.


I’m not going to waste my time trying to put a positive spin on these results – for example by pointing out that the FTSE AIM Index fell 15.76% over the same period – beating the index where many of my shares are listed is irrelevant; all I’m interested in is making real money, you can’t buy food with percentages can you?


However, I do think the results show that by taking losses as quickly as I sensibly as I can when either I’ve called something wrong or the market is simply moving against me is the right thing to do. To have only lost seven and a half percent of my capital after such a dire year is almost a result in itself.


There you go, I have put some spin on it after all!


So onward, I just love the challenge that the markets bring to my life even when it’s not going well. Am I going to change the way I trade and invest because of this year’ loss? In a word,NO. Why? Because I have total confidence in my system. Is that confidence misplaced? Well, we’ll find out this time next year won’t we.

Bond International Software (BDI) that I bought in to at the beginning of January has today come up with a superb set of figures and in effect put itself up for sale. My purchase price was a fraction below 95p they closed tonight at 120p. So far so good, but now my hope is that a suitor comes wooing not with flowers but with a really knockout cash offer. 175p would be nice. Also the top up on AVON that I made a couple of weeks ago is already £208 in profit. Happy, happy, happy.

The Paragon Group of Companies (PAG) the up market car dealer looks set to rise back up to the 440p mark, perhaps a bit higher. A tiny trade on the spreads equal to buying 200 shares at the market price of 418.6p with a guaranteed stop 20 points lower. The plan is grab 20 to 25 points in the next couple of weeks, a real snatch it and scarper operation.

Cussing as my e mail account is blocked because I tried to access it from my new iPhone…………deep joy. I doubled up on my holding in Avon Rubber PLC (AVON) a great little company that makes state of the art respiratory systems for the military to use when all hell breaks loose and another division that makes stuff for milking cows! It keeps producing good numbers and is unlikely to disturb my beauty sleep; the two thousand pounds worth I bought for the portfolio at 629p almost a year ago had gone as high as 800p but have fallen back in recent weeks to the low 700’s.   Looking for value, I topped up with another £2,000 – 274 shares at 721p. This is one I’m going to tuck away and hold until the first hint of trouble, banking the twice yearly dividends and hopefully watching it rise steadily as the earnings upgrades come through.

I posted last month that it had caught me out by breaking down through my stop loss and how I’d decided to bend my own rules and continue to hold it because I liked the story…………MONSTER MISTAKE.

The FTSE 100 hits an all time high thereby answering the question I posed yesterday. It was a tiny trade so no harm done by closing it at the equivalent of £6957 for a loss of a £117. I could whinge on about how irrational the market is but accept the verdict and move on.


Painfully, have to do the same with Tungsten Corporation (TUNG). I posted last month that it had caught me out by breaking down through my stop loss and how I’d decided to bend my own rules and continue to hold it because I liked the story…………MONSTER MISTAKE.


A number of well informed professional investors mounted a bear raid on the stock causing the price to collapse. Their reading of TUNG may be wrong, frankly I don’t know, but I’ve read their reports in detail and sadly have decided that for me there is no longer any reason to hang around in hope. To add to my woes not only do I think I got the investment case wrong in the first place, I totally and utterly cocked up my management of the trade once it was running and for me this is the more serious issue.


I broke my own rule that a stop is a stop is a stop. I was glad to get out at 142.1p for a loss of £1427.82 – my biggest loss in well over ten years; not clever.

Hum, is this a stroke of genius or the wild gamble of an idiot? Shorted the FTSE 100 – betting that it will go down as it’s at the 6800/6900 level that usually acts as a ceiling; the world is a dangerous place so having a hedge in place is no bad idea. Sold £1 a point, equivalent to a £6840 position taken on the spreads at 6840. Stop 7040, no real target I’ll simply tighten the stop and move it down as and when.

Not a single valentine’s card at the weekend and it just gets worse – I saw on the news wire that takeover talks between William Hill and 888 had failed and just knew that the price of 888 would gap down as the market opened. Tried to get a short on at the bell and failed; no free money there as the price plummeted. Even worse – NG. turned out to be no fun at all; stopped out for a loss of £24. DUH!

My trading chum Simon flagged up National Grid (NG.) this morning – a nice upward trend following a fall in price – what’s not to like? A small trade equivalent to 100 shares on the spreads at 904.9p, stop at 880.9p and a limit order to take the profit at 949.9p. No big deal, just a bit of fun.

No joy with NTG – its price rose every single day since I bet it would go down, duh. Stop loss triggered at 625p midday today for a loss of £89.


I broke my own rule that a stop is a stop is a stop. I was glad to get out at 142.1p for a loss of £1427.82 – my biggest loss in well over ten years; not clever.

I aim to buy good news and hide behind my mum when the bad news strikes. Cello Group (CLL) that I bought into in December got its VAT returns in a twist; the share price fell 10% at high speed on the news and a half decent profit became a £65.94 loss which I instantly took.

I’m not that keen on pigs; Babe in the eponymous movie was quite cute and my granddaughter has introduced me to Peppa. However an awful lot of bacon gets eaten each day, so when Cranswick PLC (CWK) a food company majoring on pork products came out with yet another good trading update I bought in as the price started moving upwards again. £3,000 invested at 1347.28p, stop 1225p and initial target 1500p.

Van hire business Northgate PLC (NTG) has been on a roll – up 37% in three months from a low of 450p to 619p at the end of January. The business is turning around but I think the price has got ahead of itself, a case of too much happiness; I’m betting on a fall as per the Dow Theory – two steps forward, one step back.


I shorted on the spreads, taking a small £2 bet per penny which equates to selling two hundred shares at a market price of 583p, stop 625p initial target 500p. The company’s trading statement is due in five weeks time, so I want to hit and run before then.

Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO) a tiny company pioneering a new type of cancer treatment has been making happy noises lately. This morning it announced that it had signed a long lease on a building in Harley Street and the landlord is carrying the costs of the conversion. I’ve been in this one before but this time will stick with it till its revolutionary machines are in use in a couple of years. A small trade of £1,000 at 3.96p, no stop loss and no target – could make monster money or it could crash and burn.


Topped up my holding in Renew Holdings (RNWH) £2,000 at 288.4p, stop down at 251p, initial target 360p and then look to top slice; a great little firm churning out good numbers time after time, this one is not set to destroy my beauty sleep and the dividend goes XD tomorrow. Yeah good.

Looking at the market whilst in the middle of a war zone. Ian the brilliant chippie/general tradesman has my kitchen and bathroom in pieces tracing a blocked pipe. It’s interesting how the human mind can focus on something else whilst there is chaos all around.


Trifast (TRI) make industrial fasteners and also lots of money. Their last set of figures were very good indeed and they are due to update the market again in a week or so. I’m taking a flyer on the news being good and have bought in ahead of what I hope will be an upward rerating of the shares. Two thousand five hundred pounds worth at 96.5762, stop 86, target 128.

My life, the Swiss have certainly stirred things up this morning. A 30% rise of the franc, glad I don’t touch the FX markets. Me thinks there will be some bankruptcies as a result of this. However I’ve got problems of my own, what to do about ETO and TUNG. I’ve decided to lower the stops and keep them for the time being. This breaks all my rules and frankly isn’t that clever, but if I’m lucky it may be a way of managing things. You may know the old gag, question, what’s a long term hold? Answer, a short term trade that went wrong. Ain’t that the truth.

Disaster. Big disaster. I’ve been away from my computer all day and ETO and TUNG have both fallen sharply coming down past my stop loss point in both cases. I like to have fairly tight stop losses in place and act on them without a second thought, but these two have got away from me. What a total bummer.


I don’t want to whinge because I just love the challenge of the markets, but it’s not as easy as I thought trying to invest/trade as I do and run a semi normal busy life.  Prices taking a run with me like this must not happen again, I need to look at having live prices with me all the time and check them constantly no matter where I am or what I’m doing, or I need to have a long think over the next few weeks  about my modus operandi.


Currently I have a more pressing matter on my mind, namely do I take the quite chunky hit on ETO and TUNG, I’ll brood over night and decide tomorrow morning.


One of my trading chums Teresa came up with a gem of a company this morning – Bond International Software (BDI) which provides support for companies in the staffing industry. I really liked what I saw both on the metrics and the chart and tried to buy some this morning but the price got away from me. Late in the day the level two price screen looked all together better so I bought £2,500 worth at 94.9850p – Stop 83p, targets 115p and then 145p.


D2 Interactive