Sunday 18 March 2018

Monkey aims to be top banana with a pick 'n' mix basket

Roisin Burke explains how the competition works and looks at the six stock market picks chosen by our blindfolded monkey

FOR more years than we care to remember, we have asked celebrities to pitch their business acumen against a blindfolded monkey and compete to win €1,000 for their favourite charity.

It's a simple game. The monkey throws six darts at a board with stocks on it. The celebrities make their top stock market picks. And we give it a year to see whose shares rise -- or fall.

The competition begins with prices quoted on the stock market on January 1 2012 and ends on December 31 2012. It's not real money (boo), but Paddy Power bookmakers is generously giving €1,000 to the winner's charity of choice (hooray).

The 2012 games began with the blindfolded monkey who threw his darts with gusto. Maybe he was hungry, or maybe it really was a completely random fling, but the monkey's first hit of the dart was fruit distributor Total Produce. With a major in investment and acquisition mission in mind for 2012, the monkey might end up being top banana with this one.

Zzzzing went the next missile, straight for Christoph Mueller's Aer Lingus. Ryanair is the airline due to pay shareholders a juicy dividend next year, but that's the way the arrow flies. On the other hand, Ryanair is stuck with Europe-only routes and well, will anyone in Europe have money to get a bus next year, never mind a plane? We're not even sure what currency we'll be using to pay the fares.

The next dart flew out of the simian maw and struck Tullow Oil. Aidan Heavey's oil and gas explorer had a stellar 2011 but will it match or exceed that in 2012? Heavey has talked about doubling Tullow's market cap in the next three years or so. If some of that action happens in 2012, it could make shareholders and monkey very happy.

Maybe the monkey hates banks as much as we do. He threw that dart square at Bank of Ireland with the vigour of a pensioner throwing an egg at the top table of a bank agm. Share price has shrivelled from an already horrendous 33c at the start of the year to basically nothing. The only way is up?

The next dart wobbled a bit and then landed on Elan pharmaceutical. The Irish pharma's recent $960m deal with Alkermes pushed down its debt burden and should give it firepower for doing what it's supposed to be good at -- more scientific innovation and blockbuster drugs. Share price almost doubled during 2011 to €9.25.

The final dart flew into TVC Holdings. The company did nothing much in investment this year, but chairman Shane Rehill has said it is scouting around for value buys in 2012. It has €73m on its balance sheet to play with. It owns a chunk of UTV that rose in value by 24 per cent this year and it gave a €13m-plus return to shareholders after selling its stake in Norkom. Analysts say it's undervalued by 33 per cent.

Sunday Independent

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