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John Phelps's portfolio

A SUPER-CHARGED performance by the Drax power generation group brought some cheer to a drab stock market last week and helped us to record another overall gain for our four portfolios.

We tipped shares in the coal-fired generator a fortnight ago because of its generous dividend policy, but saw prospects transformed last week when the UK government agreed to help finance a switch to biomass production - burning woodchips, in layman's language.

Recent buyers believe benefits from the switch means it is now only a matter of time before Drax receives a takeover bid from one of the Big Six energy companies and its share price responded with a rise of more than 10% over the week.

Scots transport giant Stagecoach was another tip to move against the general trend, with a useful rise after directors announced a hefty dividend rise. And Smiths Industries gained ground on gossip about a potential offer for its medical supplies operation.

The 2012 portfolio was the main beneficiary, with its value increasing almost 3% over a week when most leading shares had drifted lower on concerns about a cutback in the American stimulus programme.

The 2013 selections also managed a small rise, helped by further support for Dunfermline-based retinal imaging group Optos after its recent trading statement, as well as the Stagecoach gain. But profit-taking in shares of Greenock's British Polythene Industries contributed to a 0.8% slippage in the value of the 2011 portfolio.

The 2010 portfolio - due to be liquidated at the end of the month - recorded a similar fall after publishing group Pearson was hit by concerns over its major US interests and is now only fractionally above our 100% appreciation target. But we still expect to hold on to the double-your-money figure.

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