The Ten Most Popular Stocks In British Mutual Funds

One of the ways that some investors use to identify potential investment opportunities is to analyze the portfolios of many mutual funds and pick the companies that exist across many funds. This strategy basically confirms the most popular stocks among the various fund managers.Retail investors try to simply follow the fund managers’ ideas by investing in these popular stocks.Based on the above idea, the following are the top 10 most popular stocks in the mutual funds(called Unit Trusts and OEIC Trusts) in the UK:

Rank Company
1 BP
2 Vodafone
3 Royal Dutch Shell
4 HSBC
5 GlaxoSmithKline
6 BG Group
7 AstraZeneca
8 British American Tobacco
9 BHP Billiton
10 Nestle

Source:Trustnet, UK

Not surprisingly just one of the companies in the above list is in the banking industry. HSBC Holdings Plc (HBC) is the only British bank that has held up well in the current credit crunch.Though the company acquired the sub-prime lender House International a few years ago in the US, the company was able to writedown most of the losses and prevent further losses in its mortgage portfolio by working with borrowers to modify the terms of the loan. Currently HBC offers a dividend yield of 6.78%.

BP (BP) is the top owned stock in most funds. BP is the third largest global energy company and the second largest component in the FTSE 100 Index.The current yield is 8.31% and the company pays dividends consistently year over year. Royal Dutch Shell, another global oil giant, trades in the US markets under two tickers RDS.A and RDS.B. Both have yields of over 7%.

Vodafone(VOD) is a global mobile telecom services provider.The current yield is 3.76% and the company had total revenues of over $55B last year.

AstraZeneca(AZA) and GlaxoSmithKline(GSK) are two of the large drug makers in the world. AZA and GSK pay a healthy dividend of about 8% and 6% currently. GlaxoSmithKline has a heavy presence in many developing countries.

BG Group is a natural gas distributor with operations in many countries. Their stock trades on the OTC exchange with ticker BRGYY.

British American Tobacco(BTI) is “an international tobacco company, with its brands sold in over 180 markets. Its four Global Drive Brands include Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall.”The current yield is 7.38%.BHP Billiton (BHP) is a diversified mining company with interests in aluminum, copper, energy (thermal) coal, iron ore, nickel, manganese, metallurgical coal, oil and gas and uranium, as well as gold, zinc, lead, silver and diamonds. This is a high beta stock.

Nestle(OTC:NSRGY) is the world’s largest food company based in Switzerland.The stock pays a dividend of 3.48%. Nestle is the owner of many top brands such as Dreyers Ice cream, Nescafe coffee,Maggi Noodles, etc.

Current Yields of Top Canadian Dividend Stocks

Last August I wrote an article about the Top Canadian Dividend stocks trading in the US markets.These stocks are part of the S&P TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats Index.

Since dividends account for 1/3rd of the total returns of the TSX Composite Index, it pays to keep an eye on the current yields.This is especially in times like this where many companies are suspending or reducing dividend payments. Fortunately not many Canadian companies have slashed dividends.

The following is the list of the 11 Canadian dividend stocks with the current yields:

1. Bank of Montreal – BMO
Dividend Yield – 10.80%

2. Bank of Nova Scotia Halifax – BNS
Dividend Yield -7.69%

3. Brookfield Properties Corp – BPO
Dividend Yield – 10.16%

4. Canadian National Railways – CNI
Dividend Yield – 2.41%

5.Canadian Natural Resources Limited – CNQ
Dividend Yield – 0.99%

6.Enbrdige Inc – ENB
Dividend Yield – 3.88%

7.Imperial Oil Ltd – IMO
Dividend Yield – 1.04%

8.Manulife Financial Corp – MFC
Dividend Yield – 7.66%

9.Royal Bank of Canada – RY
Dividend Yield – 7.01%

10.Sun Life Financial Serv Canada – SLF
Dividend Yield – 7.29%

11.Toronto-Dominion Bank – TD
Dividend Yield – 7.12%

Note: The above yield info. is as of Feb 25, 2009.

Disclosure: Long all four banks listed above and CNI.

The Ten Most Profitable Companies in Asia

Asia has two of the most populous countries of the world – China and India. They are also among the largest emerging markets in the so-called BRIC countries. Some of the countries in Asia are showing signs of recovery. For example, the Shanghai Composite Index has grown by 27% year-to-date until last Friday due to the Chinese government’s efforts to stimulate the economy. A Marketwatch news report on Feb 13 said “Loans extended by banks rose to a record 1.62 trillion yuan ($237 billion) in January, accelerating from 771.8 billion yuan issued in December, according to data released Thursday by the People’s Bank of China.”

In addition to China and India, the former “Asian Tigers” of Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea are also in Asia. Singapore has become the new “Switzerland of Asia” due to its favorable status as a off-shore banking haven. Besides these countries, Japan – one of the top economies in the world, is also in Asia. The oil-rich Middle East countries hold some of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. On the political front, China is a community country but follows a unique type of economic system called “Market Socialism”(capitalist market with communist political system). India is the largest democratic country in the world. Except Israel, most of the Middle Eastern countries are monarchies. So overall Asia is an interesting continent to monitor with its different types of economies and political systems. From an investment perspective, my research to identify the top 10 companies led to the FinanceAsia.com site which publishes the top 100 companies in Asia.

The following is a brief overview of the Ten Most Profitable Companies in Asia:

1. PetroChina Co. Ltd. (PTR) is an integrated oil and natural gas company in China. All of of its production-related assets located in China. PetroChina had a total revenue of $159B last year. The P/E is 7.15 and the dividend yield is 4.65%. Annual EPS in the past 5 years increased by 23%. Currently S&P has a “Five-Star” rating on PetroChina.

2. HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC), one of the largest banks in the world, pays a dividend of 10.23%. HSBC is incorporated in the UK but FinanceAsia lists it in the top Asian companies since HSBC has huge operations in Hong Kong. HBC is currently not an investor’s favorite since its a bank stock.

3. Samsung Corp(OTC: SSDIF) is a top digital equipment and home appliance maker from South Korea. In the US, the stock is thinly traded on the OTC market. Samsung does not pay a regular dividend.

4. A provider of mobile telecom services in mainland China and Hong Kong, China Mobile Limited (CHL) has a subscriber base of 399.5 as of August, 2008. CHL has a profit margin of about 27% and the annual earnings growth is 17%. The market cap. is $178.9 B and the yield is 3.84%.

5. China Construction Bank Corp. trades on the OTC market with ticker CICHY.

6. Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co Ltd (SHI) is another petrochemical company in China. The current yield is 5.39%.

7. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is not listed in the US markets.

8. Bank of China (3988.hk) trades in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

9. One of the world’s largest integrated steel producer is POSCO (PKX) of South Korea.Due to the collapse in steel prices PKX has fallen 59% in in the past 52 weeks. PKX does not pay regular dividends.

10.India-based Oil & Natural Gas Corporation(ONGC.NS) trades on the New Delhi Stock Exchange.