The Beginners' Portfolio: Vodafone Group and Aviva Are in the News

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

Since our last portfolio update, a few more of our holdings have been making the news -- and its always good to keep an eye on what's happening.

Vodafone
One of the main reasons I like Vodafone Group  (LSE: VOD  ) (NASDAQ: VOD  ) is its international nature.

And it looks like that market reach is paying off again, with Vodafone entering into a consortium with China Mobile to bid for a mobile telecommunications license in Myanmar (Burma). It's a great opportunity -- a country of 60 million people finally entering the world's open markets, and where mobile phone usage is still very low and horribly expensive.

Although it has been a bit erratic over the past year, Vodafone share price is up 13% since we bought it, to 191 pence today -- and we're getting a dividend yield of 5%-6%, too, which is terrific. With a P/E of 12.5, I reckon Vodafone is still a strong "buy."

Aviva
Last week, Aviva  (LSE: AV  ) announced the completion of the sale of its 49% stake in CIMB in Malaysia for 152 million pounds. It's not massive news, but it does represent a step in the strategy of focusing on markets where Aviva enjoys competitive advantages and divesting itself of non-core businesses.

Aviva shares are down since we bought them, from our purchase price of 321.4 pence to today's 297.5 pence. But we've only had them a month and the fallout from the firm's slashed final dividend is barely subsiding.

With the rebased dividend looking likely to be close to 5% for the coming year, and the shares on forward P/E of only 7, Aviva still screams "buy" to me.

Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto  (LSE: RIO  ) suffered a setback at its Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah, after a slide of more than 150 million tons of material halted production and will adversely affect copper production for the year. But in positive news, we also heard of record first-quarter iron ore production.

The share price? Well, mining shares have all been in a slide of late due to fears of falling commodities prices. Rio Tinto is down just 1% since we bought, to 3,015 pence. But short-term prices in this sector don't matter much. This still looks like a long-term bargain to me.

Blinkx
And finally on to our biggest success story so far, video technology expert Blinkx  (LSE: BLNX  ) . The firm struck a new deal earlier this month with XOS Digital, which will "give Blinkx users access to a wide array of original and high-quality sports content."

The share price has fallen back a little since its recent peak, but at 80.25 pence we're still nearly 120% up on the deal! And I think Blinkx has plenty more growth potential.

Nearly a year
How time flies! It's nearly a year since the Beginners' Portfolio chose its first share -- Vodafone on May 18, 2012. Next month I'll be bringing you a first-anniversary update, when we'll be able to look back on Tesco's results, which are due tomorrow.

Finally, my idea of the kind of shares that should make up the core of a beginner's portfolio is the same as my choice for an ISA, or a retirement portfolio -- or, in fact, any portfolio. I'd start with good strong companies that should stand the test of time and potentially reward you for decades.

Not surprisingly, the Fool's top analysts think similarly, and they have put together a special report detailing five blue-chip shares that I think would be ideal for anyone at the start of their investing career. But it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your hands on these great ideas that could start you on the road to long-term riches.

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