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The most popular shares in 2019

Sophie Lund-Yates assesses some of the shares most popular with HL clients so far in 2019.

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.

We take a look at the companies most popular with HL clients so far this year, and what they could offer investors.

2019's most popular shares

The lists 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 2019, as at close of business on 13 December. We’ve also included some of the most popular large* overseas shares (excluding investment trusts and ETFs).

More about international share dealing

Shares listed alphabetically.

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

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 in value so you could get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a guide to the future. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you, please seek advice.

Lloyds Banking Group

It’s been a tumultuous year for the UK banking industry, with political and regulatory pressures rearing their head. The difficult environment meant Lloyds' share price dipped below December 2018 levels at various points in the year - but they’re now up almost 27% since that time.

The shares have bounced since the General Election result as there’s more certainty around Brexit and the UK’s economic direction. Looking ahead to next year, that could mean renewed confidence, and therefore demand for loans, from the bank’s business and retail customers.

Of course, the biggest blot on 2019’s copy book was PPI. Lloyds wasn’t alone in being hit by the scandal, and it saw a £1.8bn compensation charge in the final quarter before the deadline. The subsequent 97% blow to reported profits was dramatic – but there are reasons for optimism. Now the deadline has passed there should be fewer unwelcome surprises for the group as it trots into 2020.

As ever, nothing’s perfect though, and it’ll still be worth keeping an eye on bad loans. These have been rising, partly because of lower used car prices in the group's auto finance business. This isn’t the end of the world, but ideally we’d like to see these bad debts start to come down.

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GVC was one of our Five Shares to Watch for 2019, and the shares are up over 30% since this time last year.

We can understand why the group’s been popular.

It has some powerful brands under its belt, including Foxy Bingo, and its digital division has continued its strong growth this year. But perhaps more exciting are the opportunities across the pond - where every US state now has the power to legalise sports betting if it wants to. GVC has licenses to operate in three so far, but this is a potentially lucrative opportunity as it looks to add more. It’s worth remembering though this isn’t guaranteed, and competition could be stiff.

Back in the UK, 2019 saw gambling headlines dominated by the harmful effects of Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBTs), which resulted in the maximum stake being reduced to £2 per go.

This had an understandable impact on GVC – which also owns the Ladbrokes Coral chain – and UK retail revenues took a nosedive. But this wasn’t as bad as had been expected, and the group still expects the Ladbrokes Coral integration to achieve cost savings of £130m by 2022.

Overall there are plenty of spinning plates at GVC, and there’s a chance the future holds further regulatory challenges. But we feel the group’s heading into 2020 in a strong position, and the prospective yield of 4.5% means investors could be rewarded while they wait and see what the future holds. Remember though that yields are variable and are not a reliable indicator of future income. Keep in mind though, the successful year means the shares now change hands for 11.5 times expected profits, compared to a little above 8 in December 2018.

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Walt Disney

It’s been a momentous year for the world’s most famous animators.

The most eye catching moment was the $71bn merger with 21st Century Fox. And, as though that mammoth deal wasn’t enough, 2019 was also the year Disney announced it’s launching a streaming service. We suspect it was this talking point that got our clients particularly excited.

As a strategy, it makes sense. The way people watch films and TV shows is changing and Disney has a plethora of content ready to go. The service is expected to launch at the end of March in the UK and other European countries, and subscriber numbers will be one to watch in the latter half of the year.

Competition is fierce, with streaming stalwart Netflix to contend with, and Apple has beaten Disney to the line with Apple TV+. We have a feeling Disney’s fight for consumer’s share of wallet may be easier than for others, thanks to its unrivalled brand heritage.

However, all that blockbuster news has come at a price and the shares’ price to earnings ratio has soared to over 26. That reflects confidence from the market, but also means there’s plenty of pressure to deliver from here. Overall, Disney spent 2019 setting up a formidable game plan, but it won’t be until next year that we see how things pan out.

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Before you can invest in US companies you’ll need to complete a W-8BEN. Find out more about the charges.

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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