April's 10 most-bought funds

12 May 2015

Star manager Neil Woodford's first eponymous fund, CF Woodford Equity Income, was the most-bought fund in April for the ninth consecutive month, while Vanguard has three tracker funds in the top 10, according to data from our sister website Interactive Investor.

CF Woodford Equity Income has been the most-bought fund on Interactive Investor since its launch in June 2014. Having launched with £1.6 billion of asset under management the fund is now close to £5.5 billion in size.

In the six months to 7 May CF Woodford Equity Income has returned 13%, making it the fifth best-performing fund in the 88-strong UK equity income sector over the period. However, over the past month the fund has struggled, delivering a fourth-quartile return of 0.1%.

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Other perennial favourites include Axa Framlington Biotech, Fundsmith Equity and Artemis Global Income, which were the second, third and fourth most-bought funds in April for the second consecutive month.

Managed by biotech expert Linden Thomas, Axa Framlington Biotech has benefited from the strong uptick in the biotechnology sector over the past three years, delivering an impressive 189% since 7 May 2012.

However, the fund has shed close to 3.5% over the past month as commentators begin to question the sustainability of the biotech rally.

Fundsmith Equity, managed by City grandee Terry Smith, has also performed well over the past three years, delivering close to 70% in total returns compared to just 45% from the Investment Association's global sector.

The fund has been propelled by its overweight to US equities over the period; however this could be beginning to hold it back as returns over three months disappoint in the face of rising scepticism over bloated valuations in US equity markets.

Artemis Global Income is another top performer, having consistently delivered top-quartile total returns since its launch in July 2010 while currently paying an above market yield of 3.2%.

Tracking success

The fifth most-bought fund was Vanguard LifeStrategy 80% Equities, a multi-asset tracker fund that is a regular constituent of Interactive Investor's top 10 most-bought list.

Making its debut in the table, however, is stablemate Vanguard LifeStrategy 100% Equities, which was the sixth most-bought fund in April, while Vanguard LifeStrategy 60% Equities made its first appearance since December 2014 at number eight.

The rising success of tracker funds, which passively track indices or other passive vehicles (as is the case in Vanguard's LifeStrategy range) is reflected in statistics recently released by the Investment Association, which show that passive funds saw their largest ever monthly inflow in March.

The main attractions of these vehicles are their low cost, with funds typically carrying ongoing charges figures of below 0.5% and often much lower.

Many, including Vanguard's LifeStrategy range, are also proving themselves in the performance department with the three funds listed above all delivering first or second-quartile returns over one and three years.

In seventh and ninth place in April are Neil Woodford's former Invesco Perpetual funds: Invesco Perpetual Income and Invesco Perpetual High Income, which are both now managed by Woodford's former deputy Mark Barnett.

Despite a bumpy ride following Woodford's departure in March last year, Barnett has managed to hold the funds steady. Over one year they have both delivered in excess of 13.5% in total return terms compared to just 7% from the UK all companies sector while over six months they have both returned over 9.5% each.

The 10th most-bought fund in April was Neptune UK Mid-Cap. Managed by Mark Martin, Neptune UK Mid-Cap is the best performing fund in the 275-strong UK all companies sector over five years, the second best over three years and the fourth best over both one year and six months.

While this is an impressive achievement for any fund, it is especially impressive for a fund that invests in medium-sized companies due to the battering the sector took in 2014. Martin's talents prompted Neptune to put him charge of its UK Opportunities fund in February, since when it has delivered second-quartile returns.

This article was written for our sister website Money Observer

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