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Beginners' Portfolio: Time for a Round-Up

LONDON -- This article is the latest in a series that aims to help novice investors with the stock market. To read past articles in the series, please visit our full archive.

It's been 12 weeks since our Beginners' Portfolio made its first investment, and I've deliberately not looked at how that and all the other purchases have performed. Over the short term, share-price movements aren't really very important.

But that said, now that we're six shares in (I anticipate the portfolio eventually holding around 10 shares), I think this is probably a reasonable time to have a quick look back and see where our companies have been going.

So let's start with a look at our holdings:


Buy Price

Current Bid Price

% Change

Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L  ) 168.5 pence 189.4 pence 12.4%
Tesco (LSE: TSCO.L  ) 305.5 pence 323.6 pence 5.9%
GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK.L  ) 1,440.5 pence 1502 pence 4.2%
Persimmon 617.9 pence 639 pence 3.4%
Blinkx (LSE: BLNX.L  ) 36.9 pence 40.7 pence 10.4%
BP 434.5 pence 450 pence 3.6%

While those price rises are nice, they don't really mean much just yet, and all it might take for a quick reversal would be, say, another eurozone panic -- and I certainly wouldn't rule out one of those. But what's happened to our companies since we bought them?

We bought Vodafone shares on May 18, and then we received an interim update on July 20, which didn't really please many investors.

The update showed falling revenues from most of the firm's tough European markets. But to contrast that, we saw strong growth in emerging markets, notably Turkey and India. And that's one of the nice things about buying companies that operate internationally -- we enjoy a buffer from any local economic shocks.

We also saw the completion of Vodafone's takeover of Cable & Wireless Worldwide, as expected. Overall, things are still looking fine.

Since we bought Tesco on May 23, we've had a first-quarter update in June that essentially said "steady as she goes." Group sales were up 2%, though like-for-like sales in the U.K. fell by 1.5%. Market share in 11 of the supermarket's 12 international markets improved, and cash flow and profits looked fine.

In the U.K., Tesco is still in its turnaround drive, and it's too early to say how well that will go. But my reasons for buying the shares remain unchanged, and I'm happy with the way things are looking, as supermarket shares in general are enjoying a good spell.

We added GlaxoSmithKline to the portfolio on June 12, and since then there has been a bit of drama involving a settlement with the U.S. government over a product selling scandal. That cost the pharmaceuticals giant a cool $3 billion! But it was already expected, and didn't harm the share price.

A second-quarter update on July 25 showed a small, but expected, fall in both revenues and profits, as the industry is suffering from a European spending squeeze and competition from generic rivals.

Nonetheless, the takeover of Human Genome Sciences for $14.25 per share, the finalization of which was announced on Aug. 3, demonstrates Glaxo's response to the changing business environment -- its acquisition plan aimed at expanding further into new biotechnologies to offset the toughening "blockbuster" market is progressing well.

We bought video technology expert Blinkx on July 18, at a time when I thought the shares were unfairly depressed, and though that was only a few weeks ago, we have already heard news of progress.

On Aug. 1, the firm announced a partnership with Kiplinger to produce targeted advertising based on the U.S. publisher's content.

Where next?
That's about it for our recap. There has been no notable news from Persimmon since we bought those shares on July 4, and our BP purchase was only last week.

Back to ignoring share prices now, as we get back to the search for the portfolio's next addition. I have some ideas, and I'm sure you have a few, too -- please feel free to offer your suggestions in the comments section below.

In the meantime, if you want to follow the strategy of buying strong dividend-paying companies -- such as Vodafone and BP, for example -- Neil Woodford is the acknowledged expert. The free Motley Fool report "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" takes a look at some of his major holdings. Click here to get your free copy, while it's still available.

Are you looking to profit from this uncertain economy? "Ten Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is the very latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the report today -- it's free.

More for beginners:

Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesco. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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