It’s been quite some week on the stock market, as a vaccine rally sent the price of previously unloved shares soaring and shook up This is Money’s Fantasy Share Picking Game leaderboard.
Monday’s news of a successful vaccine from Pfizer saw SSP shares leap 52 per cent and Rolls-Royce shares climb 44 per cent – while at one point on Tuesday, Cineworld shares had doubled in value in two days. Shares gave up some gains at the end of this week, but the FTSE 100 is still 7 per cent higher than than a week ago.
On Monday we will reveal who rode this week’s roller coaster to scoop £500 in the latest best weekly share pick competition, which ended at close of trading today.
With the market now closed for the week, Fantasy Share Game players can now pick fresh shares that will be eligible for next week’s prize. And even if you have not yet signed up to play the game, you can still sign-up to try to win £500.
Below we look at the weekly winners over the past six weeks – and give some tips on picking shares for the game.
The FTSE 100 rallied this week to continue its rise since the start of the month, but some shares are up by far more than the market
RSA bid boosts shares to bag teacher a £500 prize
Joseph Iuliano saw an RSA takeover bid boost his share pick for the £500 weekly prize
This week saw a vaccine rally but last week’s winner had to rely on a more conventional event that can send a company’s stock soaring, the takeover bid.
And it was an approach for insurer RSA that proved a lucky break for our latest weekly winner.
The insurance giant, which owns the More Than brand among others, received a 685p-a-share joint approach from Canadian insurer Intact and Denmark’s Tryg.
That sent its stock rocketing 45.8 per cent last Thursday and a successful takeover could spell £15.8million payday for its chief executive, the former RBS boss Stephen Hester.
Our latest weekly winner, Joseph Iuliano, won’t get quite such an outsized windfall, but did bag £500 for the best performing fresh share pick of the week.
He picked RSA on 2 November at 9.58am and secured a 50.68 per cent gain by the close of trading on Friday from the share in our Fantasy Share Picking Game, sponsored by Fidelity International.
That was enough to edge him ahead of eight other players who had chosen RSA last week but recorded lower gains.
The 57-year-old from Bromley, in Kent, says that he is relatively new to investing and decided to play our game, as he is a customer of Fidelity and heard about it through the platform.
Joseph, who spent many years working abroad as a teacher of English with the British Council, now teaches in summer and during the rest of the year marks international English Language Testing exams.
He said: ‘As far as my share picking tactics are concerned, I only started investing earlier this year, and only in the last few weeks have I turned my attention to UK shares.
‘I originally had a portfolio in an Isa with a provider which only included funds but was drawn to transferring this to Fidelity, as it offered a wider range of assets.
‘I started investing in shares and chose them after reading a variety of broker reports and articles in various financial publications including This is Money. This was the case with RSA.’
The married father-of-one says that he has had some success with his stock picking, with the shares he has backed doing ‘averagely well’.
He added: ‘My only previous experiences of the financial world are limited to a grade A Economics A level in 1981 and no more. After this, I went to art school and then later to university.’
Tom Stevenson: Value shares jump
Tom Stevenson, of game sponsor Fidelity International, gives his us view on this week’s market excitement.
Tom Stevenson says it has been a remarkable week in the markets
Tom says: ‘It has been an extraordinary week in which to be picking stocks for the share picking game. Markets have moved further and faster in just a few days than at any point since the early pandemic downturn in the spring.
‘The good news for investors is that the direction of travel has mainly been upwards on the back of unexpectedly positive news on a Covid vaccine on Monday.
‘This week’s moves have been particularly interesting for stock-pickers because the prospect of an imminent re-opening of the global economy has shifted momentum away from the reliable growth stocks which have driven the market higher in recent years and back towards the out-of-favour shares which have lagged behind. It’s been a dramatic shift in styles.
‘The big winners over the past week have been many of the shares which have been hardest hit during the pandemic. British Airways-owner IAG and Rolls-Royce, which builds the engines for most of the world’s airlines, have soared on the back of the vaccine news.
‘Other winners have been property companies, which will benefit from a return to the shops and the office. Housebuilders are on the up as people regain the confidence to move home.
‘Banks are benefiting from the prospect of rising interest rates which make it easier for them to profit from the gap between what they can charge borrowers and what they must pay to savers.
‘Unsurprisingly, the fallers have included the stocks which have been the biggest beneficiaries of the stay at home orders and retail and leisure lockdowns. Home delivery services Just Eat and Ocado are among the biggest decliners this week.
‘One other notable faller (not included in the game but held in many British investors’ portfolios) is the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust – which has benefited from its big bets on the high-flying FAANG stocks which led the market higher but look relatively expensive in a more value-focused market.’
Rolls-Royce rollercoaster for another prize
Investors often hold big blue-chip companies for their defensive qualities in times of crisis, but one of Britain’s most famous stock market names, Rolls-Royce, has been on a rollercoaster ride this year.
Rolls-Royce’s rollercoaster ride was good news for £500 Fantasy Share Game weekly prize winner Teresa Bourne
The aerospace specialist has been understandably hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, which has grounded a huge chunk of the world’s aircraft, hammered Rolls-Royce and led to its massive cash call and £2billion rights issue.
In an already volatile market, this has spelt extreme volatility for Rolls-Royce shares and that led to grandmother-of-three Teresa Bourne picking up the £500 prize for the best performing share pick.
Playing under the name TeasyBee, she scored a 31.29 per cent gain on Rolls-Royce shares, buying in at 8.54am on Wednesday 28 October and selling out at 11.25am.
That was enough to put Teresa, of Hove, ahead of the eight players in the 25 top performing picks of the week who had also chosen Rolls-Royce.
Highlighting the topsy-turvy nature of Rolls-Royce’s share price, it also accounted for the three worst performing picks of the week – all from players who chose it for their portfolios but didn’t sell and so suffered when the share price fell later than week.
Teresa has returned to This is Money’s Fantasy Share Picking Game, sponsored by Fidelity International, after playing last year, when she came second.
She said: ‘I am so happy to win something. I came runner up in the competition last year when there was only a prize for first! I really enjoyed playing then and again this year.
‘Strategy is difficult this year due to the constant changes going on in the world. I picked Rolls-Royce due to the huge drop that morning and sold as I thought it was spiking.
‘I am a mother to three boys and am expecting my third grandchild in a couple of weeks. Not sure when I’ll get to hold him due to the lockdown.
She added: ‘I care for my 86-year-old father in my home. I invest and buy shares in a Sipp and will add the prize money to this.’
McCarthy & Stone takeover bid sends shares soaring
Timing can be vital when it comes to investing and this week’s winner of the £500 prize for the best fresh share pick highlights that.
While plenty of players plumped for retirement home developer McCarthy and Stone, one managed to time it just right to bag the biggest gain.
Peter Chsinall, from Colchester, Essex, picked the company at 5.24pm on Monday 19 October for 75.3p. By the time the market closed on Friday, it was up 53.8 per cent to 115.8p.
A number of players picked up the share on Tuesday evening and the small hours of Wednesday, but Mr Chisnall was ahead of the curve.
The McCarthy and Stone share price saw a coronavirus slump. It started the year at around 150p a share before plummeting to an all-time low of 51.75p on 20 March 2020, with two thirds of its value wiped out.
Fantasy Share Picking Game
US private equity firm Lone Star offered to buy the Bournemouth-based builder for £630million. McCarthy and Stone buys land and then builds, sells and manages retirement homes and has been hit by the pandemic as the property market largely came to a halt during lockdown.
The move by Lone Star marks the latest attempt by a private equity firm to take advantage of the crisis to acquire companies at a discount.
Mr Chisnall, who plays under the name pechis, is an energy and environmental engineer designing low energy building and processes.
Why did he buy McCarthy and Stone at that particular point? He said: ‘I tried to choose companies that would be caring well in the current circumstances of Covid 19 and climate emergencies.
‘Everyone is getting older, so I chose McCarthy and Stone.’
He says he got involved in the game because he wanted to ‘participate in something where you needed to do a bit of research.’
He adds: ‘I’m not a great shareholder and most of my investments are in general funds within trusts or suchlike.’
Lockdown home improvements boost Victoria
A hunch that Britons’ desire to spruce up their homes in lockdown would boost carpet and flooring specialist Victoria paid-off for this best weekly share pick winner.
David Hughes had only been playing the Shar Game for two weeks when he bagged a £500 best weekly share pick prize
David Hughes, playing as Hughesdah, scored a 35.29 per cent gain from picking Victoria shares to bag the £500 weekly prize, edging ahead of fellow player Put It All on Red, as he had picked the share first.
When there is a tie on performance for the best fresh share pick of the week, the prize goes to the player who picked it first and Hughesdah added it to his portfolio at 12.10pm on 10 October ahead of his rival’s 5.54pm pick.
The father of two grown-up sons, from South Wales, said he discovered the Fantasy Share Picking Game while reading This is Money just two weeks earlier and thought he would give it a go.
David currently works temporarily in a distribution centre after losing his job as production manager for a manufacturing business due to the impact of coronavirus.
He said: ‘I have never invested in shares although it is something I have thought of doing. I prefer to take the less risky option of funds within my stocks and shares Isa.
‘I thought I would join in for fun to see how well I could do, I never thought of winning anything.’
He said that he has picked Morrison’s, Tesco and Diageo and expected them to be his top performers but they have not done so well, unlike Victoria which saw its share price leap on a strong trading update.
‘Regarding picking shares, I think this is more down to luck than any science,’ he said. ‘I was looking for businesses whose price was low compared to their previous high but also where few other players had picked them.
‘Other factors I considered were whether they would benefit from the Covid crisis like some of the retail and DIY sectors.
‘Picking Victoria was based on the hunch that with everyone spending more time at home, they will be looking to decorate, replace carpets and flooring. Assuming most people still want to decorate in time for Christmas. Something I myself have started so the money will be put towards this.’
The strong performance of some DIY, specialist retail and home improvement-related firms highlights how some sectors that people have expected to struggle have done well in lockdown.
In contrast, other firms that people might have forecast would do well in a pandemic haven’t always done so.
David added: ‘No doubt like a lot of other players, thought the likes of AstraZeneca would be a sure winner, but to have dropped by almost 5 per cent is very surprising.
‘Most of my other picks were based on the hope there will be some small recovery in the economy over the next few months and provide me with a good finish in time for the end of the game.’
Returning player scoops weekly prize on Rolls-Royce
Value investors have had a tough time in recent years, but the coronavirus crash and rebound has delivered a number of opportunities for a quick profit from beaten-down shares.
Simon Allock won a £500 prize in last year’s game and returned to play again this year… and scoop another one
Aerospace giant Rolls-Royce has been absolutely hammered this year. In February, its shares traded at 697p, whereas by mid-October – before a rights issue price adjustment – they were a colossal 72 per cent lower.
But, that was considerably higher than they were in early October.
Profiting from the remarkable rise in Rolls-Royce’s share price last week, was the fourth weekly winner in our game, Simon Allcock, who picked it at 111.3p at 8.35am on Monday 5 October and sold out at 238.5p at 9.42am on Friday 9 October.
The gain? A cool 114.29 per cent, which was enough to claim the £500 prize for the best fresh share pick of the week.
Playing the game under the name of Dunk the Lord II, Simon’s tactics have been paying off and were honed in part during last year’s Fantasy Share Game, when he also managed to bag a weekly prize.
Simon said: ‘I was really glad to see the Fantasy Share Game again this year, as I really enjoyed playing last year, and I’m moving house so I am using the game to enable me to de-stress during the home moving process.
‘I prefer to pick ‘value’ stocks, which is why I picked Rolls-Royce and had seen its share price decrease recently. I was playing for the longer term, and was just lucky to be this week’s winner.
‘I’ve picked stocks in the aviation and travel sector, which have gone down a lot, but hopefully will recover soon.’
How to pick a winner
A stroke of good fortune has delivered a number of weekly winner prizes, in the form of a rally or takeover bid, but there are some tactics that can help.
Be an early bird
One tactic that has been paying off for some is checking the official stock market announcements on the RNS (Regulatory News Service), where trading statements and company results are posted, often at 7am.
Watch out for any companies that say they are trading ahead of expectations, these can rise strongly when the market opens.
The question is whether to pick them early and try to get a good price at the open, or wait to see if a share starts rising before getting in?
Look out for share tips
An alternative is to keep a close eye on share tips. Companies that get a Buy rating from leading tipsters, such as Financial Mail on Sunday and This is Money’s Midas column, or are upgraded by brokers often see a bump. Check out our game partner Stockomendation’s site, which collates share tips.
Spot the takeover rumours
Also, look out for takeover rumours. These often start swirling before a bid comes in: that gets prices moving, but when the bid finally arrives a big jump often occurs. Read This is Money’s Business & Markets section and our daily Business Live blog for the latest news.
Halfords trip pays off with a winning share pick
A shopping trip to Halfords paid off handsomely for this share picking game weekly winner who spotted its lockdown sales success was continuing.
Robert Holmes took a trip to Halfords and realising how busy it was picked it. That share pick then won the £500 weekly prize
Robert Holmes, 68, scooped the third of our £500 weekly prizes after racking up a 31.95 per cent gain on picking Halfords shares.
The grandfather-of-two said: ‘I picked Halfords as I had been on Sunday to collect some ordered scooters for the grandchildren and noticed how busy it was getting with customers shopping early for Christmas and motoring essentials.
‘I thought that it would be a good bet for the share game.’
Keeping an eye out for what’s going on around you in the world – and backing things that seem to be doing well – is a simple investing strategy that has been put forward by a number of famous investors.
Among them are legendary US investors Philip Fisher and Peter Lynch, who both argued for using personal experience of companies and ‘scuttlebutt’ – naval slang for rumour or gossip – to inform share picking.
Spotting the companies that seem to be doing well in lockdown has paid off for investors, who have seen some retailers such as Halfords, B&Q owner Kingfisher and Ocado thrive, as others have suffered.
Robert, who is playing our game under the name Viewnorth, was particularly lucky with his Halfords pick, as he chose it at 11.58am on Wednesday, 30 September, before a rival player who scored the exact same performance but picked the bikes-to-motoring retailer at 1.05pm.
Our weekly £500 prize in the game is for the best performing new share pick of the trading week and in the event of a tie in performance, the prize goes to the player who picked it first.
Halfords released a trading update on 1 October, the day after Robert, of Country Durham, had picked it – and its share price rocketed 30 per cent as it revealed that high summer sales in its cycling and car repairs businesses had continued into September.
Robert, who has been married to wife Marie for 46 years, is retired after a career in retail sales, including greeting cards, postcards and newspapers. He already invests in the stock market, including buying some shares as a long-term investment for his grandchildren.
He told This is Money that his grandchildren Ben and Fran were ‘over the moon’ to find out he had won the weekly prize.
‘Fran said that means Grandad can get a job again and Ben said Grandad can get a new car. I wish – possibly if I win the first prize,’ he said.