Another good month for markets and the JIC portfolio. It seems a long time since Friday 25th May, when the portfolio was valued at £145,700, down 3.6% on the 1st January valuation. During December the JIC portfolio rose 4.2% to record a total return for 2012 of 21.2% compared to a monthly rise for the FTSE All Share Index (TR) of 0.8% and 12.1% for the year.

The main contributors during December were Findel +21%, Gable +17%, Agriterra +16%, Ashtead +12% and Synergy Health +11%. Gulf Keystone -9% and Telecity -8% were the only real drags on performance. Whilst I shouldn't really grumble about the total return for JIC of 21.2% for the year I feel I should have done a little better! To some extent JIC is diversified away from the UK with about 25% held in various investment trusts. Never the less, against the background of the FTSE Mid 250 Index and the FTSE Small Cap Index (ex Inv. Trusts) rising 23% and 32% respectively , two areas which I consider fertile hunting grounds, I should have been able to pick some better stocks.

The best returns so far: Quindell +148%, Halfords +69%, easyJet +54%, Igas 46% and Taylor Wimpey +38%. Main lessons from 2013. I am perfectly able to pick undervalued growth situations without having to resort to speculative oil exploration companies. Chariot Oil & Gas cost the portfolio £3,514 or just over 2% of my JIC starting capital. True, you can make extraordinary returns if these companies do strike oil, but if they don't....!

In 2010/11 I made good money out of three E&P stocks; Encore, Nautical and Cove but in all three cases I bought after they had made their initial discoveries and the risk was greatly reduced. I need to be more disciplined in implementing stop losses. In some cases, having cut a holding, the shares promptly bounce but that should be seen as water under the bridge. The real damage comes from watching a stock drop when it is clearly in a down trend. The best , (or worst), example was Cape where I had cut my losses for a very small loss ,(£-46) but then for some inexplicable reason tried to catch a falling knife, bought back in and eventually sold out a few profits warnings later for an overall loss of £3490 or 2% of JIC starting capital. I cut a…

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