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How we did last year

Our established share tips breezed into the New Year in confident fashion last week with the three remaining portfolios all moving still higher after the big gains seen in the past 12 months.

The stormy weather and the extended Christmas break left many dealing rooms eerily quiet and trading volumes were at an exceptionally low level, but a few of our recommendations still managed to attract further buying support.

For example, year-end newspaper recommendations gave a boost to transport giant Stagecoach, safety equipment specialist Halma and power generation group Drax, while Scottish retinal imaging group Optos continued its good run after its recent trading update.

The 2012 portfolio, with three of these top performers on board, put on the best performance of the week to add 2.4% and record a total gain of more than 60% for only the second time in the past two years.

The 2011 portfolio also made good progress with a 0.9% rise, although we are aware that it could be an uphill task to achieve our usual target of 100% appreciation by the time it is liquidated next Christmas.

With this in mind, we moved to boost its chances last week with the nominal purchase of shares in global engineering giant GKN which should be a major beneficiary of the UK's manufacturing revival.

Brokers say the group is doing well from its car parts business, while it is also fattening margins on aerospace activities ahead of further potential acquisitions in the sector.

As usual, we have set a stop/loss target at which we recommend our followers to consider selling if the shares run into heavy profit-taking after a recent rise.

The 2013 portfolio, our best performer last year, edged up a further 0.6% over the week as gains in Stagecoach, Optos and Grainger cancelled out a further slippage in the Signet jewellery group on concerns over trading in the run-up to Christmas.

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