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Half-way through 2014, the Share Centre reviews its top picks

Cherry Reynard
Written By:
Cherry Reynard

Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, reviews the five stock picks the group recommended at the start of the year:

National Grid
“At the halfway stage National Grid are up a healthy 10% (including its recent dividend). The results, as we would hope from a utility company, have been viewed as solid. Management expect good organic growth and healthy returns, which should support sustainable dividend growth. The stock remains a core stock for an income portfolio.”

William Hill
“This has been a tough first half of the year for William Hill, leading to a 17% fall in the share price. A combination of poor sporting results and, more importantly, tax increases on gambling machines in the budget has hit the sector. Also, to compound matters the shares were demoted from the FTSE 100.

“We continue to recommend William Hill as a ‘buy’, but the risk has risen. Growth in its mobile and online operations and selective international expansion should provide regional, regulatory and economic diversification, while expanding its services to appeal to a wider demographic.”

“With the FTSE 100 currently unchanged on the year, a 13% rise in the share price of Aviva is pleasing. Results were ahead of forecasts, with a larger fall in debt and expectations of improving earnings into 2015. Although the shares have had a strong run over the last two years we hope there could be more to come, along with a return to dividend growth.”

“Earthport is the best performer so far from our picks with a rise of 15%. There has been a steady stream of contract wins with some large financial institutions. Results have highlighted good revenue growth and we hope that its services will continue to attract more blue chip customers. We believe longer term attractions remain for investors.”

“Incadea is building for the future, with some new contracts and hopes for more to come through in the second half. There has been little to get excited about in the short term, hence the share price fall of 2%. The stock remains a higher risk smaller company to tuck away for the longer term, however there is unlikely to be any significant boost over the next six months.”