Neil Woodford reveals latest trades

24 January 2017
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Neil Woodford admitted last week he was "disappointed" with his portfolio's performance in 2016. Now we hear what the star fund manager's CF Woodford Equity Income fund (part of Moneywise's First 50 Funds selection) was trading in and out of during December.

Pipeline developments made sure core holdings AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline ended 2016 on a positive note. Mr Woodford expects further positive announcements from trials involving Astra's cancer drug durvalumab in 2017.

 

An acquisition and approval from the European Commission to operate its third biomass unit conversion was great news for power station owner Drax. Mr Woodford also took part in a share placing at existing fund holding Allied Minds.

On the downside, security firm G4S, sub-prime lending specialist Provident Financial and US biotech Prothena struggled, although Mr Woodford "can see no fundamental reason for the share price declines and remain[s] very confident in the long-term investment cases".

Capita mistake

He holds his hands up to getting it wrong on Capita, however. In truth, there's no hiding from this one, given its share price sunk from £11 at the beginning of 2016 to less than £5 last month after another profits warning.

"With the benefit of hindsight, it has been a mistake to own Capita shares within the portfolio over the last 12 months. However... it is critical that we do not compound that mistake through an emotional reaction to the disappointment of the share price fall.

"Our view is that the market has over-reacted - to an extent, understandably - to this series of negative trading updates.

"We have, therefore, retained conviction in the long-term investment case and took advantage of the depressed share price to add to the fund's position in the company."

Mr Woodford also topped up holdings in Drax, British American Tobacco and AstraZeneca at "very attractive valuations". Some extra cash was also handed to Mission Therapeutics and Oxford Nanopore.

And there are some wise words for all investors, too: "As we head into 2017, it is worth remembering that, sometimes, share prices may rise and fall for reasons that have nothing to do with fundamentals. Much of what we saw in 2016 does not appear to be fully explained by fundamentals," says Mr Woodford.

"In the long run, they are all that matter for share prices, but over shorter time periods they can be rendered almost irrelevant, as other drivers, such as sentiment and momentum, take over.

"When this happens, it is important that we stick to our investment disciplines, revisit our basic assumptions and if they continue to hold true, maintain conviction in our strategy.

"In so doing, we remain very confident that the fund is appropriately positioned to deliver very attractive long-term returns as fundamentals reassert themselves, which they inevitably will."

 

This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared on our sister website, Money Observer

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