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Top investment tips for a stocks and shares ISA

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·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·8-min read
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Investment  British Pound Sterling banknotes are seen in a box at the Money Service Austria company's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, November 16, 2017.REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
There are a lot of investment options when it comes to an ISA but it doesn't need to be daunting. Photo: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

With thousands of funds to choose from, knowing where to put your money can seem challenging.

Anyone can put up to £20,000 in an investment Isa before 6 April and not pay tax on the profits. There are seven types of ISAs and for those looking for long-term savings goal, then a stocks and shares Isa is likely to be a sensible option.

“Even with the current market uncertainty, it’s still important to use your ISA allowance to protect your money from tax. If you’re not keen to invest your entire ISA allowance right now, you can still secure your allowance,” Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

“You can open a stocks and shares ISA and park the money in cash, then gradually drip feed it into stock market investments when it suits you best.”

Here are three stocks, three investment trusts, and three funds that experts at Hargreaves Lansdown says should be on any investor’s radar ahead of the ISA deadline on 5th April.

Read more: ISA: Five global fund ideas for investors to have on their radar

Stocks

Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst, has picked stocks that range across banking, tech and medical innovation.

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L)

“The current higher interest rates benefit banks, as they earn money by lending it out at higher rates than they pay on deposits. As a traditional lender, Lloyds is set to feel the benefit of rising rates more dramatically than those that have bigger sources of alternative income, like fees for corporate and investment banking.

The current higher interest rates are driving Lloyds share price. Chart: Yahoo Finance
The current higher interest rates are driving Lloyds share price. Chart: Yahoo Finance

"Lloyds also has an impressively low cost:income ratio, making it more resilient in tough times. Cost savings are being achieved through increased digital services – which are also another area of future growth as more people shift to online banking. Lloyds’ capital position is miles ahead of the 12.5% minimum set by the board, which is behind the group’s increased shareholder returns, adding weight to the noteworthy prospective yield.

"Lloyds is also more interesting now than it’s been for a while. Spades of excess capital, possible further interest rate rises and opportunities for growth are a tempting cocktail. But remember if interest rates remain historically low, Lloyds will likely struggle to improve profitability.”

Microsoft (MSFT)

“There aren’t many businesses that can say they make software the world doesn’t know how to live without. Those traditional software sales are a cash cow, since each new customer costs basically nothing and a high proportion of revenue drops through to cash. That’s why Microsoft has annual operating margins of over 40%.

Microsoft is one of only a handful of tech companies that returns $72.1bn net cash to shareholders. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Microsoft is one of only a handful of tech companies that returns $72.1bn net cash to shareholders. Chart: Yahoo Finance

"While core business simmers away, Microsoft’s cloud computing business is taking off. New working from home cultures, plus businesses looking for efficiency in the wake of rising costs, means cloud has a lot of growth potential. Microsoft is one of only a handful of tech companies that returns some of its impressive $72.1bn net cash to shareholders.

Read more: Pensions: What Russia's invasion of Ukraine means for your savings

"The prospective yield isn’t exactly huge, but it’s better than nothing. The impending acquisition of Call of Duty maker, Activision Blizzard, marks an expedited effort to grow gaming revenues. This should feed well into existing subscription-based revenue from Xbox’s Game Pass.”

Smith & Nephew (SN.L)

“Smith & Nephew is a medical device maker. The group offers products involved in hip and knee replacements, soft tissue repair and materials to manage injuries and prevent infection. All three were stunted by the pandemic as elective surgeries plummeted and long-term care facilities closed to new patients. That should offer a strong tailwind for Smith & Nephew over the next few years as the elective surgery backlog is worked through.

"The group’s also been optimising the manufacturing network and outsourcing warehousing and distribution. Crucially, none of these changes should hinder capacity, leaving room for margin improvement. The green shoots are already emerging. Revenue for sports medicine and wound management is above pre-pandemic levels. Operating margins are expected to climb to at least 21% over the next two years. The shares could rerate substantially if Smith & Nephew can protect its new lower cost base as demand for surgeries returns. And the prospective dividend sweetens the deal somewhat.”

Smith & Nephew rose recently after announcing its 2021 profit jumped to £437m from £218m the year before. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Smith & Nephew rose recently after announcing its 2021 profit jumped to £437m from £218m the year before. Chart: Yahoo Finance

Investment trusts

Kate Marshall, lead investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown talks us through her top picks when it comes to investment trusts.

Personal Assets trust

“Sebastian Lyon aims to grow investors' money steadily over the long run, while limiting losses when markets fall. Lyon does this by investing in a mix of assets, including well-established US and UK companies, UK government bonds, US inflation-linked bonds, gold and cash.

"The cash and gold could help provide some stability when economic and stock market conditions are tougher. The trust tries to experience fewer ups and downs than the broader global stock market or a portfolio that's mainly invested in shares. It could form part of the foundation of a broad investment portfolio, bring some stability to a more adventurous portfolio, or provide some long-term growth potential to a more conservative portfolio.”

Bankers Investment trust

“Bankers Investment Trust is run by Alex Crooke with the support of an experienced team from Janus Henderson. Crooke aims to deliver growing income and capital by investing in companies worldwide. The trust is one of the AIC’s (Association of Investment Companies) Dividend Heroes – trusts that have consistently increased their dividends for 20 or more years in a row. Bankers has a long history of increasing dividends, with 55 years of consecutive dividend increases.

Read more: Five ways for investors to make the most out of capital gains tax exemptions

"The income focus of the trust means that it looks quite different from the average global investment trust. It has less investments in North America, where dividends tend to be lower, and a higher amount invested in the UK and Japan. Because of this, the trust could add some global diversification to an income-focused portfolio, or balance well with a more growth-focused global trust.”

Aberdeen Asia Focus

“Hugh Young is lead manager of Aberdeen Asia Focus, alongside other experienced fund managers including Flavia Cheong and Gabriel Sacks. This trust mainly invests in small businesses based across Asian markets. The trust invests across both established and less-developed economies like Thailand, India, Taiwan and Singapore. It has a bias towards businesses that rely on growing consumer wealth, but aims to have at least some exposure to most major sectors.

"The trust could help diversify a global investment portfolio, or the Asian part of a portfolio that’s focused on larger businesses. A combination of younger, smaller businesses with exposure to emerging markets makes the trust a higher-risk option.”

Funds

Kate Marshall, lead investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, picks three funds that offer a mix of regionally diverse investments that target shares, bonds, commodities, to help investors shelter their money during market volatility.

Troy Trojan

“With an expectation that markets will be volatile while there is continued economic uncertainty, a total return fund could be a good choice. Total return funds are more conservative than funds that invest fully in company shares. They normally invest in a mix of investments including shares, bonds, commodities and currencies. They could help provide modest growth for your investment portfolio over the long term, and help shelter your money when stock markets fall, but are unlikely to keep up with stock markets when they rise quickly.

"The fund could form the foundation of a broad investment portfolio, has the potential to bring some stability to a more adventurous portfolio, or provide some long-term growth potential to a more conservative portfolio.”

Legal & General Future World ESG Developed Index

“Responsible investment funds give you the chance to make money in a way that’s in line with your principles. Some avoid investing in areas that do harm, like tobacco producers, weapons manufacturers or alcoholic drinks makers. Others invest in companies that have a positive effect on society – from those that treat their employees well, to those that create clean energy through wind farms or solar panels.

"This fund invests in broad developed stock markets while being mindful of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. It aims to track the performance of the Solactive L&G ESG Developed Markets Index. It won’t invest in tobacco companies, pure coal producers, makers of controversial weapons or persistent violators of the UN Global Compact Principles. An index tracker fund is one of the simplest ways to invest, and this one could be a good addition to a broader investment portfolio aiming to deliver long-term growth in a responsible way.”

ASI Asia Pacific Equity

“Over the years, rapid industrialisation, growing populations, and a desire to succeed have helped transform countries in the Asia Pacific region. Domestic consumption is set to be a key driver of growth over the coming years, helped by a young and growing population, and rising wealth.

"Continued innovation from companies at the forefront of technology based there could also provide exciting growth opportunities for investors. However, younger economies mean the risks are greater and more volatility should be expected. While Asia is home to developed markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore, others, including China and India, are still emerging so a long investment horizon is essential to help ride out the ups and downs.”

Watch: What are SPACs?

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