Wednesday 14 October 2015

The Maestro's Movers: Neil Woodford's Big Buys and Sells in September 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 September 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, £7.07 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 September

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:

2Game DigitalLON:GAME380.38%
5Halosource Reg SLON:HALO32.13%
8NewRiver RetailLON:NRR17.49%
9Provident FinancialLON:PFG16.85%
13Legal & GeneralLON:LGEN12.61%
14Babcock InternationalLON:BAB11.64%
15Reynolds AmericanNYSE:RAI10.93%
17Midatech PharmaLON:MTPH9.97%
19BAE SystemsLON:BA7.18%
23British American TobaccoLON:BATS6.57%
24Northwest BiotherapeuticsNASDAQ:NWBO6.52%
25Spire HealthcareLON:SPI6.29%
274D PharmaLON:DDDD5.13%
29Oakley CapitalLON:OCL3.64%
30Mercia TechnologiesLON:MERC3.40%

Woodford's Big Sells in September

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:

3Royal MailLON:RMG-5.00%

Woodford's Moves 

As with the last few months, Woodford has been buying quite widely but selling very narrowly.

The biggest sale was that of the reinsurer Amlin. Recently he had been building up this stake before the announced acquisition by Mitsui Sumitomo. He has no doubt since sold out (mostly) with a pretty nice looking capital gains.

I have also sold out of my Amlin holding and reinvested the proceeds into Unilever. For Woodford, it seems to have provided further firepower to expand some of his other holdings. Indeed, three of his holdings he increased in size significantly including AbbVie

As usual, the FTSE 100 giants feature heavily in the buys list. Some familiar names, Legal & General continues to attract a noticeably higher investment than others. What is more, Rolls Royce with its still heavily depressed share price receives another healthy injection of cash. 

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. For example, this month the Essentra position appears to have been sold out of.

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 September? Has the list got you thinking about any of the companies listed?

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[Image reproduced from Woodford Investment Management]


  1. Hi DD

    I think he probably saw your post on how you'd sold Amlin and so he decided to exit too! I don't have any particularly strong feelings about selling or holding, so I'm still holding by default. Either way as you say, the capital gains have been good.


    1. Haha, so Woodford is my other reader? Only joking.

      Had the markets not been throwing up such lovely-looking bargains at the time I would still be holding on to Amlin today. I just could not resist Unilever at that price. At the moment it is looking a wise move! But things can change rapidly!

      Woodford has still continued to hold a small position in Amlin. It is not entirely clear why. Perhaps he had freed enough capital with a 98.7% sale that he could leave some untouched to run the full 670p per share course! Who knows!