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  • The most popular shares in April

    Nicholas Hyett assesses some of the shares most popular with HL clients last month.

    Important notes

    This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

    Among the companies that have been popular with HL clients this month are several US tech giants reporting quarterly results, the UK life insurers and a pharmaceutical company facing an existential struggle across the pond.

    April’s most popular shares

    The links below show the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 shares (excluding investment trusts) with the highest number of net buys (buys minus sells) among HL clients in April. We’ve also included some of the most popular large* overseas shares (excluding investment trusts and ETFs).

    Shares listed alphabetically

    *Of equal or greater size than the market capital of the smallest FTSE 350 stock

    More about international share dealing

    These are provided for your interest, but aren’t a guide as to how you should invest. You should consider your own aims and attitude to risk before making any investment decisions, and remember that investments will fall as well as rise so you could back less than you invest. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you, please seek advice.

    Microsoft – entering the $1trn club

    April was a landmark month for Microsoft, as solid results helped its market capitalisation rise past the $1trn mark. It’s only the third publicly traded company to hit that milestone, and with Apple and Amazon both having fallen back into the ‘two comma club’, the move means Microsoft is once again the most valuable company in the world.

    Progress was good across the board, with the top line ticking up in all divisions. While that’s encouraging to see, we think it’s been Microsoft’s mushrooming cloud business behind the rising share price.

    Third quarter numbers showed underlying revenues from Azure, the cloud-based business that offers companies on-demand access to a wide range of services including storage and data management, grew 75% year on year.

    Building out the infrastructure to roll-out more cloud computing will require significant investment. But with tens of billions of dry powder on the balance sheet and meaningful free cash flow, Microsoft has the financial clout it needs. That means we think the group is well-placed.

    Still though, the extra growth potential has pushed the valuation up to 25.9 times expected earnings. That means a fair amount of progress is already factored into the share price. Microsoft will need to keep delivering.

    Find out more about Microsoft

    Register for Micrsoft updates

    Indivior – anything but fine

    Pharmaceutical group Indivior saw its shares plunge at the beginning of April, after the group was accused of 28 counts of fraud. The charges pre-date Indivior’s separation from Reckitt Benckiser, and relate to the marketing of Suboxone Film as a safer, less abusable option than other opioid addiction treatments.

    Indivior intends to contest the accusations, having worked closely with the investigation over several years. However, should the group be found guilty it “may have a material adverse effect on the Company and its financial position and outlook”.

    The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has demanded at least a $3bn fine against the group, which some market commentators have speculated would be enough to put the group out of business. However, a lesser settlement is also possible.

    For investors – the potential outcomes have become starkly black or white.

    Find out more about Indivior

    Life Insurers – some healthy tailwinds

    A few life insurers, and some former life insurers, scored highly with investors this month – with Aviva and Legal & General Group (L&G) both making it into the top 10.

    The sector’s been enjoying a windfall as life expectancies develop in its favour. Life expectancy had been increasing for years, with each generation living longer than the last. But more recently the trend for increasing longevity has stalled.

    That’s good news for the industry. It makes existing annuities cheaper than expected, allowing insurers to release money previously earmarked for future payments and resulting in bumper profits.

    The sector’s now firmly past the turmoil caused by the introduction of pension freedoms in 2015. And with conditions calming down many names in the sector are offering healthy dividends. But with each player taking a different approach, it would be a mistake to treat all life insurers equally.

    If you’re interested in just how the major players have evolved over the last 3 years check out our our latest article on the sector.

    Find out more about Aviva

    Register for Aviva updates

    Find out more about L&G

    Register for L&G updates

    The Author owns shares in Legal & General.

    Unless otherwise stated estimates, including prospective yields, are a consensus of analyst forecasts provided by Thomson Reuters. These estimates are not a reliable indicator of future performance. Yields are variable and not guaranteed. Past performance is not a guide to the future. Investments rise and fall in value so investors could make a loss.

    This article is not advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any investment. No view is given on the present or future value or price of any investment, and investors should form their own view on any proposed investment. This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication. Non-independent research is not subject to FCA rules prohibiting dealing ahead of research, however HL has put controls in place (including dealing restrictions, physical and information barriers) to manage potential conflicts of interest presented by such dealing. Please see our full non-independent research disclosure for more information.

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    Important notes

    This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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