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LONDON -- With boardroom confusion at Barclays (LSE: BARC.L ) continuing to attract unwelcome headlines, the beaten-down share price is attracting buyers. No real surprise, then, that Barclays was the most sought-after share in the FTSE 100 this morning, being the single-most popular purchase by stockbroker TD Direct Investing's individual clients between the market's opening noon.
Nor was the second-most popular purchase by TD Direct Investing's retail clients much of a surprise. Last night, the share price of engineering services contractor Lamprell (LSE: LAM.L ) was 123 pence. This morning, following yet another profit warning, it slumped 41% to 71 pence -- in the process attracting buyers who sensed a bargain.
But for my money, three much better long-term bargains lay slighter further down the list of most-popular shares. Just behind Lamprell, for instance, came Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L ) , which this morning delivered half-year results showing a 439 million pound loss following a raised PPI provision. But behind the headlines, progress is being made. The rate of bad loans is declining, the bloated balance sheet is being reduced, and the longed-for dividend comes ever closer. For some investors, then, the glass was more half-full than half-empty.
Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSB.L ) was in demand, too, being the fifth-most popular share with TD Direct Investing's individual clients between the market's opening and noon. Again, the trigger was the company's just-published results -- and a second‑quarter payout that was upped by 2.4% compared to last year, putting the company on course for a full-year dividend payout of 105 pence. An oil giant on a bargain-level yield of 4.8%? Some investors couldn't resist.
Finally, staying with oil and gas, BG Group (LSE: BG.L ) was in demand, coming eighth in the list of TD Direct Investing's most popular buys this morning. While the immediate news was pretty much "steady as you go," investors will have latched onto the much more promising news regarding future prospects, especially in Brazil and Australia. Throw in a 10% increase in the interim dividend and a decent reduction in net debt, and the overall picture clearly had investors pressing the "buy" button.
Will they be disappointed? Time will tell.
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Investing ideas from Malcolm Wheatley: