The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) continues to fall on Russian action in Crimea, and is down 28 points in early trade this morning, or 0.4%, to 6,531. Russia now controls almost all naval bases in Crimea, and today Ukraine withdrew its armed forces from the region.
Investors might want to consider how much exposure they have to the area. While concern briefly abates from time to time, so far the West hasn’t come up with any ideas to deter Russia, and this will loom heavily over certain emerging market stocks, at least in the near term.
But, of course, as the blue-chip index trades down, there’s a opportunity to pick up a piece of a great business for cheap.
Some shares fell harder than others last week. In particular, the Budget announcement provided one or two bombshells, and annuity providers and gambling companies ended up rattled.
Legal & General (LSE: LGEN.L – news)
Political risk is a factor for many companies and, while you should obviously be aware of all possible headwinds facing your investments, Legal & General’s (LSE: LGEN) (NASDAQOTH: LGGNY.US) 10% slide last week was utterly out of the blue.
The shares fell on the announcement in George Osborne’s Budget that pensioners will be able to dip into their pension pot without taking out an annuity.
Legal & General at least fared better than specialist providers Partnership Life Assurance and Just Retirement (LSE: JRG.L – news) , which last week plummeted 62% and 47% respectively.
Resolution Limited (LSE: RSL.L – news)
The leading blue-chip faller, however, was Resolution Limited (LSE: RSL), likewise hit by the pension reform. The shares fell 14% on the beginning of the week, picking up a little on Friday after a broker upgrade.
The hope for the firm is that while annuities will be less frequently purchased, pensioners will likely still need another retirement product, one which Resolution can provide.
After the share price declined Resolution’s yield increased to 6.7% , which is pretty chunky, if income is your thing.
William Hill (Other OTC: WIMHF – news)
William Hill (LSE: WMH) fell by 10% last week, another casualty of the Budget, after the Chancellor raised duty on fixed-odds betting terminals.
The machines have been under enormous scrutiny this year amid growing concern over the impact they have had on deprived communities. The terminals enable customers to bet £100 every 20 seconds and critics claim they are highly addictive.
A political cloud will remain over the betting industry, as Labour leader Ed Miliband has confirmed a Labour government would empower local councils to ban fixed-odds terminals from high-streets. In 2013 it was reported that there were 9,000 betting shops in the UK, and William Hill and rival Ladbrokes (LSE: LAD.L – news) have a combined 3.9 fixed-odds machines in each of their shops.
How to lessen your risk
You need to diversify your portfolio. Everyone loves their small cap growth stock that’ll — fingers crossed — double (or triple!) in value. But of course, not everything will be a double bagger, and a purely growth oriented portfolio will likely lose you money.
Same goes for being overweight in a particular industry.
Your portfolio needs a bedrock of steady, highly reliable shares that can withstand heaps of volatility, come what may. These are shares with illustrious histories, dominant market positions that pay out a reliable dividend.
Does that sound sensible?
To find out some of our ‘must own’ stocks — FIVE of them! — for 2014 and beyond simply click here.
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Mark does not own shares in any company mentioned.