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A stock to top up…and one to reduce – Top fund manager gives his views

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Fund manager, Hugh Yarrow, of the top-performing Evenlode Income fund, gives his thoughts on a stock to top up, and one to pare back.

Top up – Spectris 

“Spectris makes precision instruments used by companies to improve the effectiveness of their processes. This doesn’t sound exciting, but its equipment is in high demand because it is relatively inexpensive and it can make the production of, say, spark plugs, considerably more efficient.

It also tests the quality of materials that come out of the ground. This has been a problem for it this year, as it has been exposed to the slowdown in mining and commodities. It issues a profits warning in July and the shares dropped 35 per cent.

To us, this seemed a big drop for what was essentially a very stable business. It grew its dividend through the most difficult economic conditions in 2008/2009. We started buying after the profits warning and have continued to top up. The share price has recovered somewhat, but we believe there is still further to go.”

Reduce – Reed Elsevier

“In many ways, professional information giant Reed Elsevier appears to be in good shape, certainly in comparison to near rival Pearson, which is undergoing a restructuring. It is trading well, coping adeptly with the economic environment and still pays a relatively attractive dividend.

However, after a 23 per cent rise in the share price over the past year, the valuation now looks a little high. It is still a reasonably large holding for us, but we have been reducing it slightly as the share price has continued to rise.”

The Evenlode Income fund is currently 6th out of 75 funds in the IMA UK Equity Income sector over five years, having delivered a 92% return.

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