Friday, 10 April 2015

March 2015 Goals Progress Report: First Quarter

It is that time already. March has been and gone. The first quarter of 2015 has passed.

Sad, I know.

However, it is an opportune time to take a little look at how things are rolling along so far. How have I done in trying to achieve my investing goals laid out earlier this year?

Let's take a look.

1: Invest £6,000 over the year

This has easily already been surpassed. However, I don't think I will chose to set a new target as I really have little transparency of earnings going forward. I will just invest what I can and try to hit my other targets.


2: Portfolio Yield Above 4%

This is on track at the moment. My portfolio yield currently is 4.3%. This is nicely above my target of keeping it above 4%. I expect this to get lower, however, as I start to focus more on higher growth rather than high yield shares. Hopefully it will still sit above the 4% mark, however!

On track.

3: Earn £800 in dividends

So far the first three months have earned me £165.21 in dividends. That is an average of £55.07 per month. If we scale this up for the whole 12 months of 2015 I would only reach a total of about £660. Obviously, that is well below my target.

Am I worried? Not at all. First, January and February are very slow months for me (and many of you as well, I am sure). March was a vast improvement and much more in line with what I need to be producing.

Luckily, the next quarter promises to be much more lucrative. Indeed, I may even see my monthly average in that quarter breach the £100 mark. 

As a result, I don't think there is too much to work about with regards to this target as yet. With continued investment and stronger dividend months yet to come I still hope to reach this target.

A little too early to tell. Nonetheless, on track of sorts.

4: Work Freedom Day of 3 February or Later

My newest addition to my targets for the year. As it stands I have got to 5 January. That means that--as it stands--I am about 28 days short. However, I have started to see my expenses drop somewhat so hopefully this should help push me towards my target.

Too early to know.

5: Portfolio Beta of 0.85 or less

This one has been very nicely improved upon since my last check. Currently I am sitting at a portfolio Beta of 0.79. This is quite comfortably below my 0.85 target.

On track.

6: Hold between 25 and 30 equities

This I have already reached with 26 holdings in my portfolio after I added seven new companies to my portfolio. These were: 
  1. The tobacco giant, Imperial Tobacco (LON:IMT).
  2. The life insurer and investment company, Old Mutual (LON:OML).
  3. Oil mega-cap, Royal Dutch Shell "B" (LON:RDSB).
  4. Largest utility on the London Stock Exchange, National Grid (LON:NG).
  5. The engineering support company, Babcock International (LON:BAB).
  6. Specialist reinsurer, Amlin (LON:AML).
  7. Real estate investment trust, Hansteen Holdings (LON:HSTN).
I still have some scope for adding more companies to my portfolio. What is more, if the opportunities present themselves I will happily go over the 30 mark if necessary. Nonetheless, so far I am looking good.

On track.

7: Trading Charges below 1.3% of Total Investment in Year

This goal was intended to put a lid on the amount I was paying in trading. So far, so good in this regard. I am sitting around the 1.3% at the moment which is bang on my goal for the year. Hopefully I can decrease this further as we roll along.

On track.

8: Increase Diversification

This was a two pronged target. One was to introduce some property element to my portfolio. The other was to add a little more of an international element to my holdings.

With regards property, I have already achieved this having added Hansteen Holdings during this period. The international element has not really moved a great deal. 

However, I have been discussing the best ways in which can be done (for instance, discussing my broker fees for international investing and looking at discount US brokers open to UK residents).

Half achieved.

First Quarter Summary

I am pretty happy with my progress so far. Already I can see the very strong possibility of me surpassing all my goals at the end of the year and revising several of them before the year's end. This is great news.

How did you do? You on track to achieve all your goals for the year so far?

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[Creative Commons image reproduced from Flickr user Kevan]


  1. Great progress for the first quarter of the year. I am impressed with that yield above 4% too but as you mentioned it may be time to focus more on dividend growth rather than just current yield. I built my entire portfolio around growth rather than current yield but it would be nice to earn a bit more from the entire portfolio. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks! I am pretty chuffed with progress so far. I see the likelihood that some of the goals will have to be revised shortly!

      Yes, 4% is pretty good. I have been targeting higher yield shares mostly up to now in order to get the portfolio rolling. This was helped by the fact that many large caps that most have in their portfolios have been selling at a discount.

      However, it is now time to start looking for long-term yield growth rather than short term high yield.

      I have actually been thinking about the relevance of the 4% target in my goals recently. I am not sure that it adds anything of note but does have the occasional effect of making me look more towards high yield rather than high growth shares.

      I was planning to write something up on this to see what people think. I am unsure myself at present!

      Thanks for dropping by with your comments!

      (PS: Just noticed I have not included you in my blogroll. Soon rectified! Also, congratulations on the new addition to your family!)

  2. Hey D2,

    You're a man after my own heart. We share a lot of the same stocks, or at least we want to buy a lot of each other's, ha! You've done better than us this quarter, but I hope to up the game later on this year as I take on more days at work - if I can reduce the costs of childcare somehow!

    My only concern for nect quarter, is that the populace will do the very worst of crimes, and vote Labour and wreck the economy... Was having a conversation with T last night about it and we were saying how that in 1997, we both would've voted Labour, but never since. They're a threat to Babcock I think, as well as utilities of course. I've put off buying anything other than National Grid (which I think should really be in everyone's portfolio) in the utilities sphere until after the election, just in case my fears come to pass!


    1. Thanks, M. And you after mine!

      It was a good quarter for me. However, as I say, from the tail end of the year things may slow somewhat in terms of new capital. We will see. I may get lucky!

      That sounds a plan to me. Childcare is one cost I am--fortunately--not having to consider at the moment. Once you have that sorted no doubt the money will go to good use!

      The election will be interesting. I have been a lifelong Labour supporter. However, with this election that has wavered significantly. That being said, I will likely still vote Labour but only because of the local Labour MP who is excellent. It is a point I am planning to make clear to the Labour party itself. I am voting for him NOT Miliband or the party's ideas in toto.

      To be honest. All of the senior leaders are hopeless. That is why I am voting locally. I did the same at the last General Election.

      You're certainly right about the utilities. They are potentially rather threatened by Labour. National Grid may be added to further. Back in Jan 2014 they got unfairly hit with the other utilities. I suspect the same will happen again. Centrica in particular looks very exposed. SSE almost as much.

      With Babcock it is less clear. Because of the style and nature of their business I think the amount of genuine impact any government can have on them is, to an extent, mitigated. Contracts tend to pass between different providers constantly and as such are planned that way. They are also growing their business outside of UK contracts which is wise just in case.

      The banks are exposed as well. However, I think that is from everyone!

      We will see though! It is a bit tense.

      I am surprised how strongly the FTSE has fared in recent days. Very strange. Something has to give you would think with all this uncertainty.

  3. Yes I like to vote locally too. When I used to work in Birmingham, I worked in Clare Short's constituency and she was excellent. Unfortunately, that constituency has all the worst metrics for things like teenage pregnancy, joblessness, poverty, drug use, gun crime, etc. etc. I lost faith in Labour after seeing the NHS destroyed by ever-increasing bureaucracy and irrelevant unnecesary middle managers taking up more and more money. To add to that, the disastrous changes that Labour made to the PFI scheme, which we haven't even been fully made aware of on a mass-media level...

    Back to stocks - much more fun to talk about! I'd just love to be able to make 2 purchases each month, but my trade plan allows me one date per month to trade for £1.50. My recent trade on RDSB was a bonus one, as we are changing the way we save into various 'pots', so we freed up some of those and transferred them into stocks. This will hopefully earn us a much better return, instead of the piffling little interest we were getting on them in a bank account.


    1. That's the biggest issue. Nearly everyone has lost faith is almost every politician and political party (they are not really ideologies anymore). Such is the hand we are dealt in this election.

      I am working out whether to shift more of my cash savings into investments or not. Currently, I want a slightly heavier cash weighting but I think I will reduce it a little from its current levels.

      £1.50 trade? Very nice. Is that a pooled/grouped investment? I have not managed to find a broker who seems to do those!

  4. Great goals list. Your progress is looking good. I wouldn't worry about being behind on dividends. As long as you are adding stocks, the next two quarterly payouts will reward you. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks, Dividend Dreams!

      No I am not too worried about my dividend target for the year. The next quarter should be an absolutely fantastic one. This should push me well and truly back on track!

      That being said, one of my favourite stocks--Catlin--will be leaving my portfolio soon (see taking its high yield with it. Will have to work out where to go next with that! It is a nice ROI, however.

      Glad to see you're making stonking progress as well!

  5. Thanks for posting your update and well done, progress is looking very good.

    I'm with M, my share purchases cost £1.50 per purchase - you set the purchase up with your platform (I can do this with both HL and AJBell Youinvest) as a "regular payment". It does mean that you are limited time-wise as to when you actually buy, since the regular payment is taken out on just one day of the month but since I'm more about saving on fees than timing the market, it's not such a bad thing. This also means that I can buy smaller lots of shares, instead of huge chunks to make it worth forking out for a large trading fee.

    As for politics, I just think you have to vote for the one you think is the best out of a bad bunch!

    1. Thanks, Weenie. I am happy with my progress so far. All looks very encouraging!

      I see! Because my broker does not have a regular investing scheme (they scrapped it just as I joined!) I completely forgot about those! I wish they did still do it, however, as it would have made building my diversified portfolio up to this point somewhat easier (although whether or not much cheaper I am unsure).

      Smaller lots invested across more companies but done so cheaply would be ideal. Give the chance for pound cost averaging to work a bit better. But oh well, you have to take the rough with the smooth. My broker transaction fee is a low £5 at least...

      I quite like the idea of time-limited investing. I know how easy it is to end up sitting there watching the share price bob up and down by a few pence waiting for it to go a little lower. Even when you know it makes no difference long-term between 300p or 302p a share it is hard to overrule yourself! Letting a machine do it seems slightly better!

      I know. Not much to choose from. At least they seem to have finally all pulled back from the childish ad hominem attacks. I find it so unbearable!

      Thanks for dropping by with your comments!

  6. interactive investor also do £1.50 share purchases.

    Halifax does it for £2 and they have I think more dates per month to choose from. They also do fractional share purchases and DRIPs, so I'm told by a commenter on my blog. However, their DRIP charge is higher than interactive investor.

    I personally do not drip shares, I let the money accrue int eh account and then put it towards the next purchase.


    1. Interesting. Halifax owns iWeb (my broker) which makes it slightly odd they dropped the service. I may ask whether they plan to reintroduce it sometime.

      I do DRIP at the moment but was writing a post about it which I will publish one day. I am now at the stage where the income is notable enough to make it worthwhile accumulating. Though I am undecided at the moment!

      It is interesting also that Halifax do fractional shares. I actually don't mind non-fractional DRIP schemes. Firstly, it makes keeping track of the number easier and also means you get a little bit of cash alongside your additional shares. A bit of the best of both worlds (of sorts!).

  7. I know it is weird that iWeb stopped their regular investment service, despite being owned by Halifax Sharedealing.

    Basically there were several reasons why I stopped DRIPing my shares. Firstly, I wanted to accumulate the money and pool it with my new money, so that I could keep costs down. Every time you DRIP, you're paying 1% or more as a charge. Now, I know 1% is really low, but imagine after you're getting several dividends coming in on a regular basis, then it soon adds up if you have several shares DRIPing every month or every quarter.

    Secondly, there are a fair few stocks I bought last year (and a couple from donkeys' years ago when I first started investing) which are sitting at 20% 30%, 80%, and even 160% profits. There is no way I am going to DRIP those shares because psychologically I'm thinking I'm not getting a bargain anymore! I would therefore prefer to roll up the monies together and invest into one of my other stocks, which has not appreciated quite so rapidly over the last year, or a completely new and different stock from my watchlist instead.

    I kind of like the idea of non-fractional share ownership for the reason you mentioned. That really makes sense. On the other hand, the reason I found out about Halifax' fractional thing was that I complained that I wanted to be able to do fractionals due to every penny being put to use, rather than just sitting in my account waiting for the monthly £1.50 trading date.


    1. Yes, they claimed at the time it was because there was not enough demand. That is fair enough to an extent. But I would have liked to been asked about it!

      Fractional shares does, I can imagine, have quite an impact on your compounding over the long term it must be said. However, the cash that gets returned to me does go to new purchases. So, I suppose, it does mean it ends up being invested anyway!

      Yes, sounds like you did the same calculations as I have but with a slightly different conclusion. At the moment, I only have a handful of my investments showing large capital gains. Of those, many are ones that don't produce enough to DRIP anyway. Also, those that are DRIPable are still--for me--reasonably good value. For instance, Old Mutual, GSK, Interserve, etc.

      So, as it stands I am keeping DRIP running. I don't think it will be long before I change tack though! Some of my investments are beginning to stretch into price territories that I would not be so comfortable investing in. When that happens, I will change policy!

      I plan to turn off DRIP this week (temporarily) anyway to stop my Catlin Special Dividend being reinvested. That being said, it is currently priced so I would actually make a small (and quick) profit on the additional share it would purchase!

    2. I tell a lie. Got my maths wrong!

      The share price would have to drop to 697p per share for my Catlin dividend reinvestment to show a profit. I don't know how I got that maths so off kilter!

  8. Ciao D2,

    Can I ask you a question on the goals? How do you calculate the Beta? I mean, I am aware of the formula, but it takes quite a lot of work to calculate it for one equity, so I was wondering if you use Google or Yahoo or some other sources...

    I have a similar goal for my portfolio but I am really struggling to find a good source for it...

    Thanks a lot,


    1. Good question, Stalflare. I don't work it out myself because, as you note, it is a large amount of work and largely unnecessary.

      I simply use the figure that the Financial Times uses. I have found them the most consistent Beta data providers so far (it is also where I get most of my analysis data).

      I hope that is of use to you!

    2. Ciao D2,
      Thanks a lot for the info I'll go and check them out. Google and Yahoo have very different values for the same stocks and I can't seem to be able to find the series that they consider, I'll try FT now.

      Thanks again for the info and keep up the good work, your blog is a source of inspiration for me who started very recently... :)

      Ciao ciao


    3. I am glad to hear you are enjoying my blog!

      Yes, the Beta values are pretty inconsistent across the board. That is why I prefer to pull the data from one source.