10 most popular shares in March 2018

Our latest list of most popular stocks has revealed some interesting choices among investors after they shunned the safety of familiar blue-chip names during the stockmarket volatility seen in March.

There was less interest in the recovery potential at BT (BT.A), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) or Centrica (CNA), for example, while old favourite BP (BP.) only scraped into our roll call of 10 most popular shares, having been second most popular the previous month.

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) again attracted the most interest among investors on the interactive investor trading platform in March, helped by the recent promise of a £1 billion share buy-back.

But further down the list shows some intriguing new entries, particularly the purchase of shares in bombed-out Micro Focus International (MCRO).

The software and IT business based in Newbury has already lost more than half its value during the course of this year, with troubles linked to the integration of assets acquired from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise in a £6.6 billion deal.

The share price slide deepened in mid-March when the company said sales were falling faster than expected and that CEO Chris Hsu had left the business.

For those investors who bought on this latest dip, there’s been a decent recovery as shares are up 23%. However, they remain 45% lower than the start of March.

Most popular shares in March 2018     Company Ticker 1 – Lloyds Banking LLOY 2 ↑2 Glencore GLEN 3 – Vodafone VOD 4 New entry Premier Oil PMO 5 New entry Micro Focus MCRO 6 ↓1 IQE IQE 7 New entry Boohoo.com BOO 8 – Petrofac PFC 9 ↓7 BP BP. 10 New entry Aviva AV.

Source: interactive investor          Past performance is not a guide to future performance

Some investors may have to wait for their bet on AIM-listed fashion retailer Boohoo (BOO) to come good. Its share price has fallen during March and April.

The Manchester-based retailer has drawn parallels with ASOS (ASC) after strong growth fuelled by the acquisition of the brands PrettyLittleThing and NastyGal. The group now sells to over eight million customers worldwide, driven by a rapidly growing social media following.

Shares stood at 257p in September, but fell to 191p at the start of March on the back of fears over cost headwinds. It currently stands at 153p.

Exane BNP Paribas thinks the stock is worth 290p, having raised its target price from 130p, but RBS Capital Markets reckons 125p is the right value.

Other new entries to our list of most bought include Premier Oil (PMO), which has attracted plenty of interest after it said the Catcher project in the North Sea had started production at the top end of expectations. Investors have been rewarded with a 5% rise since the start of March.

There’s also a place in our top ten for Aviva (AV.), which looks to be awash with cash after highly-regarded CEO Mark Wilson hiked the 2017 final dividend by 20% to 19p for the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth.

He is also promising further shareholder rewards this year, with more than £500 million set aside from £2 billion in excess cash as Aviva further highlights its credentials as an income play. Aviva shares remain uncertain, however, with the stock little changed since the start of March.

These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation, and is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company’s or index name highlighted in the article.

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