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The most popular shares in February

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

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 in February.

February’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 February. We’ve also included 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. Please remember yields are variable and not guaranteed. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you, please seek advice.

Royal Bank of Scotland

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) shares have fallen over 20% since full year results, despite reporting better than expected income and operating profits.

The bank, soon to be renamed NatWest Group, does face some challenges. They include how to mitigate the damage being done to net interest margins (the difference between what the bank charges on loans and pays on deposits), which are being hampered by low interest rates and a fiercely competitive mortgage market.

But the share price slide is also likely linked to coronavirus fears, and RBS isn’t the only bank to be hit by the trend in the last few weeks. It’s potentially a longer-term headwind, and we don’t know what the overall effect of the virus will be.

One of RBS’ attractions is it has plenty of room to cut costs. It’s targeting £250m of savings in 2020, and we’ll be interested to see how this goes. The new CEO has also made plans to further shrink the NatWest Markets business, and we’ll be looking out for details on exactly what the future holds for the division.

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Tullow Oil

Tullow’s had a difficult time lately. We suspect it’s on our most popular list because investors took notice of the 76% share price collapse since December’s profit warning.

December was the second time Tullow had sounded a warning in as many months. Drilling problems in the Ghanaian TEN oil field and the discovery of poor quality oil in Guyana means full year guidance was cut and the dividend suspended. We’ll have to wait for full year results on 12 March for more news on overall performance – we already know Tullow's share of production last year averaged 86,700 barrels of oil per day (bopd) which was below guidance provided in November.

Problems stem from the struggling Ghanaian oil fields which are responsible for producing enough profit to shift Tullow’s large debts, as well as fund new projects and shareholder returns.

We think things will remain challenging for Tullow for now, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for news on the new CEO. The top job is still open, and whoever fills that seat will have plenty of work to do.

See the Tullow Oil share price and charts

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Apple hit the headlines in February. It warned a slower than anticipated return to "normal conditions" in China, following the coronavirus outbreak, means it will miss revenue targets next quarter.

The “normal conditions” Apple’s talking about relate to iPhone supply chains, store opening hours and customer traffic. While the disruption isn’t ideal, it’s too soon to tell how things will play out, and we think the business remains in a strong position for now. Customer demand outside of China remains in line with expectations.

What does Coronavirus mean for investors?

Back in the core of the business, Apple’s story is unchanged. Looking ahead to April’s results, investors will want to see further growth in the better performing, higher margin areas of the business (like Services).

It’s also important to see if iPhone sales are still gathering momentum. Sales here have been more positive recently, after a period of more sluggish progress. While we know the coronavirus will have dampened performance, we’d like to see if underlying trends show the latest handset’s continued to resonate well with customers.

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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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