Interactive Investor

Shares for the future: why I think these 24 shares are good value

3rd March 2023 15:01

by Richard Beddard from interactive investor

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Fresh from a marathon run in sunny Spain, our columnist finds there are comparisons with running a company. He also explains why he likes this list of high-quality businesses.

Looking into the future 600

I have just returned from 10 days in and around Seville, where the temperature rises above 20 degrees in the mid afternoon even in February, oranges litter the pavements, and the grocery stores are full of enormous fruits and vegetables.

The supermarket shelves back in the UK seem incongruous, but it is good to be home refreshed by the winter sun.

A letter, almost from Sevilla

In the same way we often experience our most lucid thoughts first thing in the morning, insights loosely related to investment struck me while released from deadlines and accounting conundrums, challenged instead by an unfamiliar language, eating dinner after 8pm, and travelling long distances on foot.

We had not gone specifically in search of the winter sun, in fact it was a double-edged sword because it made the end of our objective, the Seville marathon, more challenging. I witnessed a runner being carried over the finish line by two paramedics, one lifting each armpit while his legs flailed wearily above the tarmac.

My performance was only slightly better. I had a target, 4 hours 20 minutes, and an easy pace to remember to achieve it: 6 minutes per kilometre, 10 kilometres per hour, 42 kilometres in total. For the first 21 kilometres, I was cranking out the splits like a metronome, almost effortlessly, but from that point on I had to push a little harder to achieve each kilometre.

At first, I barely noticed, but in kilometre 29 I cracked. That one took seven minutes and from then on I only ran one leg faster, the final one.

The low point was the 40th, which I walked in 10 minutes 19 seconds. I finished all 42 and-a-bit kilometres about 20 minutes behind schedule.

Testing my running covenants

Hitting the infamous wall is, perhaps, the running equivalent of a company testing its bank covenants. The walking allowed me to recover somewhat, which is like the bank agreeing to let a business continue trading until it can find its feet again. Insolvency was the guy I passed on the entry to the home straight lying in the gutter receiving medical attention.

If this had been my first marathon, you could forgive me, but I have pretty much run a marathon a year for the last 20 years, and I think I have hit the wall every single time.

If you apply the standard formulae to my times over shorter distances, I should be running much faster. My Garmin running watch reckons I could run a marathon in a spuriously precise time of 3h 34m 55s.

The probable reason for this discrepancy between predicted and actual times is the assumption embedded in the prediction that the runner is at peak fitness for the distance. Achieving peak fitness for a marathon is much more time consuming than for a half marathon, or a 10k race. Being busy, ill-disciplined and easily distracted I have never properly committed to the distance one must run in training.

I know this, but still I hurl myself at unreachable targets.

On targets and investing

If you have read previous editions of this monthly Shares for the future article, you may have spotted that I try to be very disciplined about investing.

I score each share, and rank them in my Decision Engine, which is presented below. That is because there is a lot at stake. These articles inform my own investments and other peoples’, and I do not want to make ill-considered decisions.

You may also have noticed that when I set targets, they are soft. There are no target prices for shares, and the performance target for my Share Sleuth portfolio, which is to beat the equivalent investment in an index tracking fund handsomely over periods of five years or more, is simply recognition of the fact that to justify the effort of researching and running a portfolio, it must do substantially better than buying a ready made one.

So-called stretch targets are, to my mind, dangerous. They encourage reckless behaviour, like running too fast at the beginning of a marathon. This is fine in the odd vainglorious running race, but not when it comes to our financial futures.

I think of this, not only when considering what I want to achieve, but also when I read the targets companies set themselves. Stretch targets used to justify executive pay should be treated with a double dose of scepticism. Often they are actually soft targets, with the word stretch added to justify the enormous payouts they will trigger. But if they are genuinely vainglorious, I worry about the risks executives will go to in order to achieve those payouts.

A target is not a substitute for strategy, and when a company declares a plan to double revenue in five years while glossing over what it does well, how it plans to do better, and what could stop it, I feel very queasy.

That precise target, to double revenue in five years, has stuck with me because I attended the AGM of Xaar, a digital printing technology company, in 2015 after the company had announced it planned to double revenue by 2020.

I was doubtful at the time, and rightly so. Xaar’s revenue almost halved over the period.

Anpario growth conundrum

A confounding aspect of highly ranked Anpario (LSE:ANP) is its relatively modest rate of revenue growth.

Anpario manufactures natural animal feed additives for farmers, which promote animal health and make farms more productive. One of the key selling points is that the additives do not incorporate antibiotics, which are cheaper but outlawed as growth promoters in Europe and many other parts of the world because persistent use encourages antimicrobial resistance.

The bans are easily circumvented though, for example by farmers that feed medicinal antibiotics to healthy animals. In February, Nature reported an analysis that predicted antibiotic use will rise by 8% between 2020 and 2030, so the regulations may only be having a limited impact.

Hopefully I will learn the company’s perspective later this month when I meet the chief executive soon after Anpario publishes its results for the year.

24 Shares for the future

I re-score each share in the Decision Engine once a year, after the publication of the annual report.

Since the last update a month ago, Hollywood Bowl (LSE:BOWL), Tracsis (LSE:TRCS), and Victrex (LSE:VCT) have gone through the process. RWS Holdings (LSE:RWS) and Quartix Technologies (LSE:QTX) have published annual reports and are next up in the queue.

Hotel Chocolat (LSE:HOTC) published its annual report in December, but the company was in the process of withdrawing from most of its international operations and I did not feel confident that my analysis would be meaningful. Instead, I put the share on an “emergency” score, which is why it languishes at the bottom of the Decision Engine table. I will review the business properly in December 2023, once we have experienced a year of the new UK focused strategy, and I will probably catch up on events without scoring the company after the half-year results, which are imminent.

Experience tells me shares that score 7 or more out of 9 are probably good value, this month there are 24 (last month there were 22), and shares that score 5 to 6 are probably fairly priced.

Shares marked with an asterisk score less than 5 out of 6 for Risks, Strategy and Fairness, the three forward looking categories of the five I score. These shares are more speculative.

Click on a share’s name in the table to read how I scored it, and please note scores may have changed due to movements in share prices.







Designs recording equipment, loudspeakers, and instruments for musicians



Howden Joinery

Supplies kitchens to small builders



Churchill China

Manufactures tableware for restaurants and eateries




Manufactures pushbuttons and other components for lifts and ATMs




Manufactures natural animal feed additives




Translates documents and localises software and content for businesses



James Latham

Imports and distributes timber and timber products




Casts and machines steel. Processes minerals for casting jewellery, tyres



Auto Trader

Online marketplace for motor vehicles




Sources, processes and develops flavours esp. for soft drinks




Retails clothes and homewares




Sells hardware and software to businesses and the public sector



Games Workshop

Manufactures/retails Warhammer models, licenses stories/characters




Supplies vehicle tracking systems to small fleets and insurers



FW Thorpe

Makes light fittings for commercial and public buildings, roads, and tunnels




Manufactures sports watches and instrumentation



XP Power*

Manufactures power adapters for industrial and healthcare equipment




Whiz bang manufacturer of automated machine tools and robots




Manufactures military technology, does research and consultancy




Manufactures PEEK, a tough, light and easy to manipulate polymer




Distributor of protective packaging



PZ Cussons

Manufactures personal care and beauty brands



James Cropper

Manufactures specialist paper, packaging and high-tech materials




Manufactures filters and filtration systems for fluids and molten metals



Bloomsbury Publishing

Publishes books, and digital collections for academics and professionals



Judges Scientific

Acquires and operates small scientific instrument manufacturers




Sells promotional materials like branded mugs and tee shirts direct



Advanced Medical Solutions

Manufactures surgical adhesives, sutures, fixation devices and dressings




Distributes essential everyday items consumed by organisations



Hollywood Bowl

Operates tenpin bowling and indoor crazy golf centres



Oxford Instruments

Manufacturer of scientific equipment for industry and academia



James Halstead*

Manufactures vinyl flooring for commercial and public spaces




Develops and integrates Customer Data Platforms




Manufactures disinfectants for simple medical instruments and surfaces



Marks Electrical

Online retailer of domestic appliances and TVs




Supplies software and services to the transport industry



Solid State

Manuf's rugged computers, battery packs, radios. Distributes electronics




Supplies schools with equipment and IT, and exam boards with e-marking




Flies holidaymakers to Europe, sells package holidays



Hotel Chocolat*

Chocolate maker and retailer


Scores and stats: Richard Beddard. Data: SharePad and annual reports

Richard Beddard is a freelance contributor and not a direct employee of interactive investor.   

Richard owns shares in Anpario, and most of the shares in the Decision Engine.

More information about Richard’s investment philosophy and how he implements it.

Contact Richard Beddard by email: or on Twitter: @RichardBeddard

These articles are provided for information purposes only.  Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties.  The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.


We use a combination of fundamental and technical analysis in forming our view as to the valuation and prospects of an investment. Where relevant we have set out those particular matters we think are important in the above article, but further detail can be found here.

Please note that our article on this investment should not be considered to be a regular publication.

Details of all recommendations issued by ii during the previous 12-month period can be found here.

ii adheres to a strict code of conduct.  Contributors may hold shares or have other interests in companies included in these portfolios, which could create a conflict of interests. Contributors intending to write about any financial instruments in which they have an interest are required to disclose such interest to ii and in the article itself. ii will at all times consider whether such interest impairs the objectivity of the recommendation.

In addition, individuals involved in the production of investment articles are subject to a personal account dealing restriction, which prevents them from placing a transaction in the specified instrument(s) for a period before and for five working days after such publication. This is to avoid personal interests conflicting with the interests of the recipients of those investment articles.

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