x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

It is time to go completely bananas

Instead of darts, we are going to randomly choose 13 companies to invest in with the help of a monkey.

There was a newspaper a few years ago that stuck a list of stocks on the wall and threw darts at it. Wherever the darts stuck, they bought the shares. At the end of the year, they compared their portfolio with that of the market experts. Almost without exception, the dart throwers had outperformed the fund managers, and without any fees except the occasional set of flights. In a similar vein, I have cooked up a method of restocking Jonathan Gornall's portfolio that started with a fictional £15,000 (Dh82,708).

Out goes BP, too much trouble, too much political interference and I was beginning to show as much interest in the well's vulnerability as a Louisiana shrimp picker. Mr Gornall probably bought too early and I am selling too early, but this latest Libya business is the last straw. I sold the 3,904 shares at £3.87.9 each, losing just 1 per cent, and if I had sold on Monday we would have made money, but that's showbusiness.

Out also went the last remaining slice of Domino's Pizza. Too cheesy, but we made 12 per cent. Next step was to get a list of the FTSE 100. Then, together with my seven-year-old son, Leo, and his favourite cuddly toy from the Pippi Longstocking series, Herr Nilsson, we set about assembling a portfolio. Instead of darts, we would choose our shares with the help of a monkey. We would spend £1,000 each on 13 different companies, a baker's dozen. The balance we would spend on bananas.

Herr Nilsson's first pick was United Utilities. As its name suggests, it is a utility company, selling water and power in parts of Britain. A sound choice from the monkey and his owner: people will always want hot baths, even in times of austerity. Next up was a couple of insurance companies. I consider insurance to be the one great scam that nobody reports. You pay all the premiums and then if anything goes wrong, they bleat that you should have been in the house when the fire started, or if you get burgled they say you should have had double locks and if they finally agree to pay out, they give you £1,000 for a television that cost you £5,000.

So, we bought Old Mutual, which interestingly isn't that old a company but just sounds like it is, and Admiral, a car insurance company that had been tipped as a "sell", so is bound to do swimmingly. Next up, the monkey man and his mate went for Rolls-Royce. They also went for Vodafone - monkeys obviously like to chatter - Rio Tinto, good mining stock and now the greedy Aussie prime minister has been defenestrated their profits look safe, Sainsbury, just as long as nothing happens to Jamie Oliver and, in any case, people always need to eat.

Standard Chartered, an emerging market bank, is a pick that I agree with, while Man Group, which makes most of its money from commodities is also a good idea. There is no easier way of making money than buying something low and selling it high. Leo and his monkey also went for Royal Dutch Shell and Diageo, the drinks firm, and also Pearson, publisher of The Financial Times. The final choice was mine. I plumped for Reckitt Benckiser, a food manufacturer that makes Colman's mustard, among other things.

Mr Colman, before being bought out, said that he made his money from all the mustard that people leave on their plate. I can't imagine a world without Colman's mustard. I once used it to great effect to stop my eldest son, now aged 17, from eating stones. After licking one laced in the spicy yellow condiment, he never touched one again. I don't know if Herr Nilsson eats mustard, but if his portfolio fails to flourish, I might cover him in the stuff.

Rupert Wright, an assistant business editor of The National, is our guest columnist while Jonathan Gornall is on leave. He can be reached at rwright@thenational.ae.