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I get asked for stock tips…a lot! So much so, occasionally I’ll pinch myself & check I’m (also) the author of an investment blog – one with dozens of investment write-ups & hundreds of posts at this point, all lovingly hand-typed & all for free. You really have to smile & wonder if they’ve ever actually read an entire post?!

But this is human nature, people always want that little something special, that easy shortcut: Go on, just this once, just for me… I mean, why wade through dozens of posts & tens of thousands of words, when all they crave is a single sure-fire winner of a stock! [Yeah, don’t we all, mate… 😦 ] It’s like ringing an online dating firm’s customer service, to politely explain you don’t want to swipe left or right, let alone trawl through hundreds of profiles – ‘cos all you really want is your soul-mate, just the one, preferably right now & for free. C’mon, surely that’s not so much to ask?!

Unfortunately, there’s pretty much zero upside to doling out tips here & there. If you’re the ‘designated’ stock picker in your family, on your street, in your office, you know exactly what I mean… Your winning tips are quickly & seamlessly appropriated as worthy examples of the tippee’s own natural genius – whereas losers rebound & somehow become your personal responsibility, of which you will be bitterly reminded for months & even years to come. And the only thing worse than this burden of blame is the sometimes inevitable bout of self-flagellation over your appalling dereliction of duty! But rest assured, you’re not at fault – those occasional feelings of guilt simply mean you’re too good for this world… 😉

However, there’s plenty of hacks out there who can’t even spell ‘guilty conscience’, let alone experience such a thing! And this time of year the financial media loves to wheel out its prognosticators & talking heads to opine on the macros, the markets & the best stocks for the coming year. I could describe it as an exercise in arrogance, but just as often it’s a shameless pandering to the cupidity & gullibility of a great many investors.

This year’s a good example of that strange mixture of fear & greed they like to feed on, and engender. On the one hand, private investors in the US enjoyed an easy & profitable ride last year, so now they’re slavering for some hot & tasty stocks on which to bet house money. Yet on the other hand, UK investors are now feeling a little battered & bruised after a tough year (esp. for those focused on AIM and/or junior resource stocks). God knows they need some winners at this point – but they absolutely can’t stomach any fresh losses…ulp, maybe a bunch of ultra-safe dividend stocks might be the better bet?!

That’s just a small illustration of everything that’s wrong with the financial media (& so many of its devotees): Obsessing over short-term investment horizons & performance, masking & mistaking ignorance with confidence, being ruled by fear & greed, running with the herd chasing hot new fads & stocks, and always always looking for the slick salesman, the shortcut, the sure thing…

Personally, I’ve never quite known how to deal with people asking for tips. I tend to oscillate back & forth from a press-worthy ‘No comment’, to a pompous ‘Well, stock ideas are my only currency…’, to an excitable ‘I was just reading up on X, I might buy it!’, to a cool & under-stated ‘I own X, perhaps you’d like it too…’. The latter may be the best of the bunch: If they lose money, you can presumably retort you’ve lost more! Not a lot of comeback to that, eh? But even that’s tripped me up in the past – apparently, I’m supposed to keep track of all tips, and immediately follow up & advise them to sell when I do..!?

Of course, the blog should be the perfect response/solution…well, it should be!

As I said, in person it doesn’t seem to work out like that at all – people just want to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth (and minus all the hay, please). At this point, I’ve fallen back on the simple & factual ‘X is the last stock I bought’ – nothing more or less, more a statement of fact than an endorsement…and certainly not a tip! Maybe it’s just a personal investment hang-up of mine – this perpetual craving for just one good stock reminds me of my own arrogance & fallibility over the years. I may be more confident of my long-term portfolio returns, but quite honestly I really haven’t a frigging clue which stock(s) will perform the best (or worst) in the next year. Which I’ve learned the hard way, repeatedly…

Anyway, enough of the ‘Bah, humbug!’ from me, Xmas is long gone now. [Hmmm, I really must take down my tree]. You know what’s coming. 😉 So, new readers, knock yourself out..! Regular readers, I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn my Top Tips for 2015 are actually my top 10 portfolio holdings!

I should note, I don’t intend to write afresh about each stock here – they’re certainly no strangers to the blog at this point. I’d also planned on this being a relatively short post. But I will include links for each stock’s corporate website, its Bloomberg quote, and my most recent/relevant investment write-up(s). [NB: I’ll obviously highlight the size of each holding – it may not be meaningful in terms of likely 2015 performance, but it’s a clear signal of the ultimate risk/reward equation I see on offer for each stock]. And as I’ve always argued, most investment theses & intrinsic valuations change pretty slowly & gradually. [Otherwise, I’d post a fresh write-up, and/or note I’m buying/selling more stock].

Hopefully these Top Tips will offer you some intriguing stock picks, and an incentive to research them further, particularly in terms of recent news & results. Of course, I incrementally adjust my theses/valuations on a regular basis – so please feel free to post any relevant comments & questions here (or by email), and I’ll respond asap.

I also expect to revisit each of these stocks in-depth during the course of 2015. Many are now at least 2-3 year old** positions, so each deserves a good long hard look (both winners & losers) to determine what stays & what goes… [**Yes, I now have a 3 year plus (public) performance record. 🙂 I must revisit this topic!] Because I still have plenty of other potential buys lined up, both cheap & interesting, and I suspect we have a QE/bond yield-induced blow-off phase to come in the developed equity markets. [After which it may be wise to migrate en masse into emerging/frontier markets & real assets/natural resources].

So, without further ado, here’s my Top 10 Tips for 2015 – first via a table & then individually:

Wexboy Yr-End 2014 Top 10 Holdings

i) Alternative Asset Opportunities (TLI:LN) (11.1% Portfolio Holding):

‘The Bedside Vigil…’        (first link’s always my most recent post/write-up)
‘An Investment To Die For..!’

ii) NTR plc (NTR:Grey Mkt) (9.9%):

‘NTR plc…Wind of Change?’

iii) Zamano (ZMNO:ID or ZMNO:LN) (8.2%)

‘Zoom, Zoom…Zamano!’

iv) European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB:LN) (7.8%):

‘European Islamic Investment Bank – Tender Offer/AGM Reminder’
‘A Letter to the CEO (& Board) of European Islamic Investment Bank’
‘EIIB – Closing The Value Gap’
Assorted – EIIB

v) Donegal Investment Group (DCP:ID) (7.7%):

‘Donegal Investment Group (DCP:ID)’
‘Donegal Creameries – Low Fat Diet’

vi) KWG Kommunale Wohnen (BIW:GR) (6.4%):

‘KWG Kommunale Wohnen AG’
‘German Residential Property V – A Buy!’
Assorted – German Residential Property

vii) Fortress Investment Group (FIG:US) (6.2%):

‘Fortress – On the Ramparts’
‘Another Assault on Fortress’
‘Asset Managers – OK, Time to Storm the Castle!‘
Assorted – Asset Managers

viii) VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF:LN) (4.4%):

‘Happy New Year! – A (Baker’s) Dozen for 2012′

ix) Universe Group (UNG:LN) (4.3%):

‘Universe Group – Some Fresh Perspective(s)’
‘Universe Group – So, Where Does This Place Us?’
‘A Universe of Stocks…’

x) Argo Group (ARGO:LN) (4.3%):

‘Argo Group…Time for a Sale and/or a Wind-Down?’
‘Argo Group – 2013 Interim Results’
‘UK Asset Managers & Argo Group’
Assorted – Argo Group

Happy New Year & Best of Luck in 2015!