Top stockpicker marks Queen’s birthday with ‘Best of British’ tips

THE QUEEN celebrates her official birthday today, and to mark the occasion a leading stock-picker has chosen five shares that he believes represent the “Best of British”.

Cara Delevingne and Malaika Firth featuring in the Burberry Autumn-Winter 2014 campaign

Helal Miah, an investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said all five offered potential, and all but one were on his company’s “buy” list.

Yet no sooner had he picked the stocks than one of the companies, Rolls-Royce, was hit by the announcement that Dubai-based Emirates had cancelled a $16bn order for 70 A350 passenger jets from Airbus. The cancellation has knocked a £2.6bn hole in Rolls-Royce’s order book, but the company, which has a major aviation component operation at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham, said it was confident that the vacated delivery slots would be taken up by other airlines.

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Its share price has dipped sharply, but that may be simply one more reason to buy into the world’s second-largest maker of aircraft engines.

Mr Miah said: “The group has been doing extremely well in recent times. With the recent re-structure, cash inflow, long-term service contracts, prospects for its marine division and joint ventures, investors will be pleased to see that growth looks set to improve.”

Another of the analyst’s choices is BP, which is one of the world’s six oil and gas “supermajors” and has major operations on Yorkshire’s east coast.

Mr Miah noted the group’s progress in transforming itself after the Gulf of Mexico oil-spill, and said: “2013 was a fairly disappointing year for the sector, with most of the oil majors suffering from weak refining conditions and a small decline in average energy prices.

“However, investors should note that BP still remains on the recovery path as production is set to increase and its Russian venture brings good potential for the future.”

A choice from a very different sector is Leeds-founded Marks and Spencer, which after a difficult few years finally reported sales increases in both clothes and general merchandise in the fourth quarter of 2013.

“With online and international operations continuing to show good gains, M&S is starting to get results from tackling its problems in womenswear and general merchandise,” said Mr Miah.

Occupying a higher end of the market is Burberry, the iconic British luxury brand that still makes all its signature raincoats at its Castleford factory.

Mr Miah said that investors would be looking to see how new chief executive Christopher Bailey took the company forward in a tough luxury goods market, but also noted the company’s change of strategy to improve the exclusivity of the Burberry brand.

“Alongside this, the group’s online offering and social media presence is improving brand awareness amongst younger, tech-savvy consumers. Recent trading updates have shown that so far this seems to be step in the right direction,” he said.

Targeting many of the same customers is Somerset-based leather goods maker Mulberry, which has a factory shop in York. This is a surprise inclusion in Mr Miah’s Best of British list, as it doesn’t actually feature on Share Centre’s own ‘buy’ list.

“It’s gone through a tough time recently. They tried to go upmarket, and it was a strategy that failed,” said Mr Miah.

“But they’ve acknowledged it didn’t work, and that’s a good thing – and they’re now heading back to their original mid-range market. So for investors who are inclined to be a little contrarian, it might be something to consider.”

Asked if he thought Her Majesty would be tempted to buy herself a birthday present on the basis of his advice, Mr Miah was less sure.

“I’d probably look at some of the luxury goods, although I’m sure she probably has other people to buy her handbags for her!” he said.