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Ideas for your ISA: six stock picks

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You have until 5 April to make the most of this year's ISA allowance. If you're on the search for stock picks, here are a six to consider.

You can save a maximum of £15,240 in ISAs in the 2015/16 tax year, which runs from 6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016. You can put the whole amount in a cash ISA, the whole amount in a stocks and shares ISA or split your money between the two.

If you still have some of your ISA allowance to use up before the end of the current tax year i.e 5 April, and want to add to a stocks and shares ISA, here are six stocks picks from The Share Centre to consider:

GlaxoSmithKline (FTSE 100) – a lower risk investment suited for income seekers

GlaxoSmithKline is a research based pharmaceutical company which develops, manufactures and markets vaccines, prescription and over the counter medicines, as well as health related consumer products. Investors should appreciate that the defensive nature of the sector and the stock, and the competitive yields paid to investors, make this a core holding for many portfolios.

One of the key attractions of GlaxoSmithKline over other large pharmaceuticals is the promising pipeline of drugs coming through R&D. Investors should note that future improvement should be helped by new products, diversification and increasing exposure to emerging markets. The company is very cash generative and is committed to using this towards increasing dividends, share buybacks and bolt-on acquisitions. As a result, we recommend GlaxoSmithKline as a ‘buy’ for those seeking income and willing to accept a lower level of risk.

Vodafone (FTSE 100) – a lower risk investment suited for income seekers

Mobile telecommunications company Vodafone continues to beat market expectations and has been outperforming ever since we upgraded the stock from a ‘hold’ to a ‘buy’ in February 2015. The group has been benefitting from increased data demand in Europe combined with the continuing rise in smartphone popularity. Outdoor 4G coverage in Europe has increased to 80% and investors should appreciate that the uptake of its 4G services is encouraging. Vodafone has 30 million 4G customers across 19 countries around the world with total mobile customers amounting to 124.6 million.

The company has been streamlining its business, selling some of its non-core assets, using the proceeds to pay off debt. This strategy has allowed Vodafone to concentrate on other areas such as India where they have a big presence and it’s worth noting that emerging markets continue to experience steady growth. We have already seen a fair bit of M&A activity in the sector as rivals consolidate and offer quad-play services. We do believe Vodafone will need to do the same to help drive earnings forward but investors should note that it has been in talks with Liberty Global regarding asset swaps and a strategic partnership with Asian mobile alliance, should increase Vodafone’s presence in Asia. The good dividend yield should make this an attractive stock for income seekers willing to take on a low to medium level of risk.

Rolls Royce (FTSE 100) – a medium risk investment suited for a balanced portfolio

Aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce powers both military and civil aircraft and is a big supplier of power generating turbines to the marine and energy markets. The last few years have been fairly difficult for the company however, new CEO Warren East is tackling the problems head on.  He has identified cost savings of £150m-£200m per annum, and is looking to simplify the organisation. A layer of senior management has already been stripped and he has identified many fixed costs which he will look to transition in to a flexible model so that it won’t adjust to changing market conditions.

Despite a number of profit warnings being issued in 2015 and the fact that dividend payments are under review as a result, we continue to recommend Rolls Royce as a ‘buy’ owing to the upcoming structural changes. However, investors should be prepared to ride out the volatility that the stock is likely to face as market conditions in aerospace look more uncertain. This may now be a stock for the contrarian investor seeking a balanced return and willing to accept a medium level of risk.

Smith & Nephew (FTSE 100) – a medium risk investment suited for growth seekers

Smith & Nephew is an industry leader with three main global business units; Orthopaedic Reconstruction and Trauma, Endoscopy and Advanced Wound Management. These businesses jointly offer over 1,000 product ranges. Furthermore, the group currently offers distribution channels, purchasing agents and buying entities in over 90 countries worldwide.

As well as benefitting from ageing populations in developed markets, the company is expecting to do well from rising average incomes in emerging markets. This is where healthcare systems and hospital infrastructure are developing at a robust pace. It is also an area that Smith & Nephew are looking to strengthen and aim to be market leaders in Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Investors may see cyclical and market fluctuations affect the company in the short term, but the longer term drivers remain steadfastly in place and the company has continued to show good underlying performances. We currently recommend Smith & Nephew as a ‘buy’ for investors seeking capital growth and willing to accept a medium level of risk.

Marks & Spencer (FTSE 100) – a medium risk investment suited for a balanced portfolio

Marks and Spencer has a strong reputation in the UK for high quality produce at good value, a reputation that should pay dividends in this time of austerity when people will be more conscious of their discretionary spending. This is an interesting time for the company as news broke in January that CEO Marc Bolland will be stepping down in April and be replaced by the current director of general merchandise, Steve Rowe. Mr Rowe will certainly be busy as the group is in the process of to transforming the business into an international, multi-channel retailer, which investors should note is progressing well.

Food sales remain a major contributing factor to overall revenue increases. The lower oil price and rising disposable incomes, along with a growing UK economy, should all be supportive of results ahead. Subsequently we recommend Marks and Spencer as a ‘buy’ for medium risk investors with a balanced portfolio. Other attractive factors for investors to consider are the significant potential to increase profitability in general merchandise, rising disposable incomes and the healthy dividend.”

Regus (FTSE All-Share) – a high risk investment suited for growth seekers

Regus is the world’s largest provider of flexible office space with a global network of nearly 2,600 premises spread across 900 towns and cities and 106 countries. In response to the growing structural demand for more flexible and mobile working, the group remains focussed on expanding the global and national networks looking for presence in new countries and cities. Despite the relative weaknesses in the global economic environment, the demand for Regus’ services is rapidly increasing.

Investors should acknowledge that management remain confident for 2016, planning further net capital expenditure of £65m representing approximately 220 locations. Revenue growth is not just because of new office locations, but also from existing mature locations which are offering enhanced services and achieving higher occupancy rates. This is a stock for investors seeking capital growth and willing to accept a higher level of risk.

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