LONDON -- During August 2011, I spent 4,600 pounds buying shares in BP (LSE:BP) (NYSE:BP) at 381 pence. That was the start of a series of trades that ended with me buying nearly 8,000 shares in Barclays (LSE:BARC) (NYSE:BCS) at 288 pence.
Today, Barclays shares trade at 322 pence. My original 4,600 pound stake is now worth more than 25,000 pounds.
I wrote here about the trades that I placed with that original 4,600 pound stake, and how I managed to turn it into 15,000 pounds within a year.
Since then, I sold my shares in Sportingbet at the end of October ahead of its takeover. The same day, I invested the proceeds in SOCO International at 340 pence before selling for 385 pence in February this year. I then ploughed all of this into Barclays at the end of March.
So, what does the future hold for Barclays, and how would I feel if I had stuck by BP?
Significant growth is expected at Barclays during 2013 and 2014, although the shares are available today on a 2014 P/E of 7.3 times forecast earnings. Considering that HSBC is available on a 2014 P/E of 10.6, and Standard Chartered on 9.5 times, Barclays looks cheap.
By my reckoning, fair value for Barclays is around 50% higher.
However, I do have two concerns. First, at just 2.3%, the forecast dividend for 2013 is rather light. Second, as a bank, the shares are highly geared to the economy and the stock market. Any setbacks could hit the shares hard.
However, we are in a bull market. This ought to help Barclays' profits and, thus, its stock market rating to rise fast.
Three years on, BP is still suffering from the after-effects of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. It's clear that BP is becoming increasingly worried about the amount that it will have to pay to compensate businesses along the Gulf coast.
It's being widely reported that BP is even trying to secure support for its case from British government ministers. But I doubt whether this will help.
It's all very worrying. The risks to BP's future profits have been increased, and there is even talk that the company may have to cut its dividend.
Worse still, in the last three months, the price of Brent crude is off nearly 10%. There is a real risk that BP could return to the levels that I sold at.
Had I just kept my money in BP, my initial 4,600 pound investment would be worth just 4,900 pounds now.
Indeed, selling BP at 431 pence, and moving on to seize other opportunities was one of my smartest moves ever.
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David O'Hara owns shares in Barclays but none of the other companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.