EVERY chief executive must live in terror of the day I tip his or her company's shares.
After receiving an endorsement from me, company share charts often resemble the type of ski slope that even Eddie the Eagle would have avoided. Unseen misfortunes frequently strike my chosen companies.
Sadly, last year's share tip, hazardous waste firm Augean had a torrid start to 2010.
I believed the Wetherby-based firm was a good long term bet because it was well-placed to enter lucrative new markets such as waste from nuclear decommissioning and the oil, gas and drilling markets.
One year on, this argument remains a valid one. Sadly, I had not reckoned on the consequences of a harsh winter.
In September, Augean sank to a small pre-tax half year loss after heavy snowfall at the start of the year made it much harder to move waste.
After this grim beginning, the company made good progress during the rest of 2010. Results were in line with management forecasts, and during the first six months of the year, hazardous waste volumes into landfill sites rose by nine per cent to 95,053 tonnes.
As the economy recovers, demand for Augean's services is certain to grow. All prudent investors know that you have to spread your risk and see beyond the stock market's daily fluctuations. I still have faith in Augean's long-term prospects.
Augean's price at the end of 2009 was 38p. Yesterday, it closed at 26.5p, shedding 11.5p or 30 per cent over the year.
So who am I plumping for in 2011? Well, I've got high hopes for Leeds-based spy gadgets firm Datong, which is closing in on acquisition targets as it looks to build on a year of growing sales and profits. The terrorist threat is still with us, and Datong is stepping up its expansion in the Americas in response to the growing demand for covert surveillance. It is also targeting areas such as Mexico, India and Eastern Europe, where the authorities are fighting drug cartels, terrorists and organised criminals.
Formed in 1974, Leeds-based Datong initially specialised in the development of radio frequency technology for use by amateur radio enthusiasts.
By 1982, Datong had developed its first radio frequency direction finding product.
As concerns grew about terrorist activity in the UK, Datong moved into the security and defence markets and it floated on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) in October 2005.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the scale of the terrorist threat, Datong's progress has not been smooth in recent years.
It suffered during the global slump as deferred orders, litigation and exporting licence delays hampered growth.
But the resumption of orders from the United States, previously held up by the administration change in 2009, is now driving its recovery. The fact that it is considering acquisitions speaks volumes about the confidence of senior management as they gear up for growth in 2011.
I believe Datong's smart surveillance systems will help me end my losing streak. And its innovative approach to business should provide healthy returns for prudent investors in 2011.