Tuesday 21 July 2015

The Maestro's Movers: Neil Woodford's Big Buys and Sells in June 2015

Stock stalking is a weird hobby.

In general I do not "follow" any particular investor's activities. However, there are a couple that I have followed of sorts because I like their investment style. One of them is Neil Woodford

I watch Woodford's fund quite carefully to get some ideas. In particular, doing this with Woodford is extremely easy as--I am sure many of you know this--he publishes the entire breakdown of his fund each month. A very unusual action.

Since launch I have been assiduously collecting this data and building a little spreadsheet to see how things are changing. I've realised that this work--which is not a tiny amount--may be of interest to some of you.

So here I will offer a little breakdown of the companies that Woodford has bought and sold in June 2015.


First, a little on my methodology. Woodford provides two bits of information each month which I use for this:
  1. The total value of all the assets in his fund (this month, £6.14 billion);
  2. The percentage weight each company has within the fund.
Using this information, I do a couple of things:
  1. Work out the value of the company holding (dividing the fund size by the company's weight)
  2. Using the share price on the day the snapshot of the fund was taken, I work out how many shares (approximately) Woodford holds in the company.
Now this provides an estimate of his shareholding in each company from month to month. It can then be used to work out what his big movers were during the month.

This is where it may be interesting to you.

Woodford's Big Buys in June

So what companies has Woodford being buying into?

Well, here is a list--according to my estimates--of listed companies that he increased his shareholding in by 3% or more. Those in bold were not in last months list of big buys. Those in italics were in last months big sells last month:

  1. NewRiver Retail--New holding
  2. Circassia--84.3%
  3. Paypoint--38.4%
  4. Homeserve--29%
  5. Lancashire--15.1%
  6. Next--14.2%
  7. Oxford Pharmascience--14%
  8. Halosource--12.9%
  9. Centrica--8%
  10. Imperial Tobacco--6.8%
  11. SSE--5.4%
  12. AstraZeneca--4.9%
  13. Zegona--4.4%
  14. Reynolds American--4.4%
  15. Northwest Biotherapeutics--3.7%
  16. BTG--3.2%

Woodford's Big Sells in June

So what companies has Woodford been dropping?

Again, this is a list of those which have dropped at least 3% or more. Those in bold were not in last months list of big sells. Those in italics were in last months big buys last month:

  1. Rightster--17.5%
  2. Revolymer--8.3%
  3. Game Digital--7.1%
  4. Horizon Discovery--5.1%
  5. e-Therapeutics--4.6%
  6. NetScientific--4.4%
  7. G4S--4.2%
  8. Imperial Innovations--3.8%
  9. Utilitywise--3.6%
  10. Drax--3%

Woodford's Moves 

As usual we see some familiar names in the growth list this month. Imperial Tobacco, Centrica, AstraZeneca, Next, BTG and beyond all reappear.

Interestingly, we have three companies which were on the big sells list last month but on the big buys list this time around. Most notable here is HaloSource which has turned a 9% fall in May to a 12.9% growth in June. PayPoint's massive jump this month is particularly striking (however, it must be noted that last month it only dropped 3% which is pretty much bang on my "not statistically important" point).

From my portfolio perspective I am interested to see Woodford adding heavily--15.1%--to his stake in speciality reinsurer, Lancashire. I suspect this is because they are set to provide results later this month which--quite likely--will include another hefty special dividend. I myself have been tempted to top up my position in them over the last couple of months.

All in all, a very interesting list.

Some Caveats

Obviously, as with everything on this site, this list is not meant to be advice on what to buy (or sell). Also, these figures are all created from different levels of estimated data. 

The weightings are rounded as is the fund value. Share holdings are therefore estimations rather than certain figures and--as a consequence--my calculations on their changes are not supposed to be seen as 100% accurate. Of course, at this final stage (that is, the write-up) there is also an additional rounding of the percentage changes.

Also, because of the way I collate the data it does mean that full sales of holdings will likely be missed. If you notice any, give me a heads up in the comments section below.

Finally, remember this is an open-ended fund and so has cash flowing in and out of it constantly. As a result, for those companies Woodford particularly favours--if he wishes to keep them at a similar weighting--then each month would show a growth in his shareholding in them. what this means for the true nature of the purchase (confidence, consistency, or whatever) is up to you!

As usual, Do Your Own Research (DYOR)!

What do you think?

What do you think of some of Woodford's big movers? Did you make similar purchases/sells in May? Has the list got you thinking about any of the companies listed?

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[Image reproduced from Woodford Investment Management]


  1. Interesting article as ever DD.

    Woodford has a great track record over many years - he did well for me when managing my Edinburgh IT before leaving to start his own company.

    As he has been so successful, I guess many will follow his portfolio trying to get a little of the magic for their own portfolio - maybe this creates a lot of demand for the shares he has purchased which may be one of the factors contributing to his continued outperformance?

    Have you considered buying his fund to use as a benchmark for your own portfolio?

    1. Thanks, DIY.

      He certainly has had a great record across the diverse number of ITs and Funds he has run over the years.

      It is a thought I have often had with figures like Woodford. Some leading lights certainly can "move the market" somewhat. There may be something in that (especially for the smaller companies in his portfolio). However, I think it has to be limited to a large extent.

      I have not thought of using it as a benchmark really. I chiefly use index trackers as my benchmark (when I do occasionally look at them!) though yours is an interesting question. I have thought about opening a modest position in his patient capital trust. But I would not use that as a benchmark.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to compile this, DD, it's very interesting and good to see that a few that are on my shortlist to buy are ones that he's purchased. Some very interesting buys of companies that I'd never heard of before - worth taking a look at them further. Cheers!

    1. My pleasure, weenie.

      Yes, there are some very interesting ones in there. HaloSource sounds a fascinating idea though as a business I am less sure.

      His buy into NewRiver Retail is interesting as I had been looking at it previously. Something does not sit comfortably for me at present and certainly there is a lot more out there to catch my eye!

  3. Hi D²,

    I must admit I haven't heard of him - out of curiousity though, how many companies does he hold in his fund in total, and what's his objective for the fund (e.g. total return in a specific region / segment?)


    1. No, I think he is very much a popular UK rather than international investor. At last count, about 90 different holdings mixed between a variety of regions but chiefly the UK with some US and European exposure and an awful lot of unlisted investments (limit is 20% non-UK investments).

      His benchmark is the FTSE All Share index and he targets income 10% higher than its yield as well as long-term capital appreciation. In the past, he has managed to do both extremely well!

      You can find out more over at the fund website, if you like: https://woodfordfunds.com/.