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The most popular shares in March

George Salmon 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.

Sandwiched between the frenzy of full year results in February, and the steady flow of April’s first quarter trading updates, March is a quiet month for the UK markets.

But with Brexit developments keeping investors on their toes, and time running out to make the most of ISA and pension allowances, it’s been a busy month nonetheless.

Find out more about ISAs

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March’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 March. We’ve also included some of the most popular large* overseas shares (excluding investment trusts and ETFs).

Shares listed alphabetically, information correct as at 31 March 2019.

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

More about overseas share dealing

These are provided for your interest, but aren’t a guide as to how you should invest. You should think about 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. Yields are variable and not guaranteed. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice.

Tesla – bulls vs bears, again

There’s always plenty going on at Tesla. In the last few weeks alone:

  • 28 February – Tesla confirms the Model 3 will be available for $35,000, and confirms all physical stores  will close. The group warns it expects to make a loss  in Q1.
  • 10 March – The decision to close all stores is reversed. Significantly fewer stores are going to close. The Model 3 still costs $35,000 but prices of other models are increased.
  • 11 March – Tesla CEO accuses  the SEC of ‘unprecedented over-reach’ in its handling of the case against his infamous ‘funding secured ’ tweet .
  • 14 March – Tesla debuts the Model Y crossover. Reception is muted. 
  • 17 March – SEC are left ‘stunned’ on learning  that Musk had not sought preapproval for any tweets since a court order instructing him to do so.

With that series of events in the rear-view mirror, perhaps it’s no surprise the shares have endured a bumpy ride this month.

However, investors shouldn’t forget the $881m of free cash flow that took the market pleasantly by surprise in October. And there’s no getting away from the fact that Tesla created an impressive global brand.

We have our doubts about whether Tesla is destined for a home run, but it’s worth remembering the words of Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right hand man, on the subject.

Never underestimate the man who overestimates himself. These weird guys who overestimate themselves occasionally knock it right out of the park.

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Legal & General – £1trn of assets

The headline numbers in Legal & General 's full year results, released on 6 March, will have made for fairly pleasant reading for investors. The life insurance giant saw underlying profits rise 10%, reaching £1.9bn, while the board has continued to pass the benefits on to shareholders.

Dividends rose 7% year-on-year. With analysts confident of further growth, the group offers a prospective yield of 6.4% for 2019.

The results also saw Legal & General become the first company in the UK with more than £1trn in assets under management. That reflected some strong results from the group’s personal pension business and work with corporate pension schemes to create individually tailored investment portfolios.

There was disappointment in some of the numbers though. The general insurance business barely broke even and annuity sales were less profitable, but overall we think these numbers underpin the attractiveness of Legal & General’s business model.

Since pension freedoms were introduced in 2015, the group’s worked closely with corporate pensions. Its tracker and multi-asset funds are perfect for companies setting up new schemes under auto-enrolments. Meanwhile its de-risking of existing final salary schemes has developed into a significant business. Both are attractive areas that we think have long-term potential.

Find out more about Legal & General

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Primary Health Properties

It was also a busy month for Primary Health Properties (PHP), which featured on our five shares to watch in 2019.

The group completed the merger with MedicX on 15 March, at which point with the 341m new shares, issued as part of the deal, entered the market for trading. It also announced the acquisition of another medical centre in the Republic of Ireland.

Acquisitions usually fall into one of two categories, either they diversify a company’s business, or bring extra scale. With MedicX also a leading provider of purpose-built primary healthcare properties in the UK and Ireland, this deal falls firmly into the latter category.

We can understand why PHP would want to double-down on its strategy. The UK has an increasingly aging population, which places ever-more pressure on the stretched National Health Service. GP surgeries, dentists and mental health clinics represent a cost-effective way to ease the burden, which should mean there’s plenty of appetite for the portfolio to grow.

All the while the upwards only rent reviews a common theme in the existing rent roll, which now stands at around £125m, should translate to revenue growth. Provided costs are well managed, that could result in an increasing dividend.

And it’s the group’s income-paying potential that remains the key attraction of PHP, in our view. However, the shares have enjoyed a strong start to 2019, but that’s compressed the prospective yield to 4.5%.

Find out more about PHP

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The author holds 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. 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.


A painful mistake?

Don’t miss this year’s ISA allowance. Find out more about ISAs.

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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