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John Phelps's portfolio

Our share tips recovered their poise last week with three of our four portfolios showing useful gains when we carried out our usual review of progress on Wednesday morning.

The one exception was our latest 2014 portfolio, which recorded a fractional slippage after profit-taking in Smart Metering Systems and a further dip in the price of mail order group N Brown cancelled out gains elsewhere.

The fall in the N Brown price finally persuaded us to sell our notional holding - at a hefty loss - under our stop-loss system.

We warned last week that the shares were facing eviction but had hoped they could rally ahead of trading results early next month.

The proceeds from the sale will go into reserves in readiness for re-investment, adding to a total cash pile which has been boosted by disposals of our notional holdings in Royal Mail, Drax, Smiths Group, Infinis and Optos in the past month.

We hope this period of enforced retrenchment is coming to an end and several other tips which had appeared in danger of triggering their own sell signals under the stop-loss system managed to move out of the danger area last week with Marks & Spencer, property group Grainger, safety equipment specialist Halma and GKN among those to bounce from recent low points.

But we are conscious that some of our latest tips have disappointed in the recent choppy stock market conditions and we are in no rush to make further notional share purchases at this stage.

Last week's best performance was staged by the long-established 2011 portfolio, where all six of the constituents moved higher and its total value rose almost 3% to come within a whisker of its all-time peak.

The 2012 selections also made the most of a better showing by global stock markets to add 2.4%, while the 2013 list managed a modest 1% improvement despite the fall in the Smart Metering share price and the effects of similar profit-taking in the Signet jewellery group.

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