Sunday 10 January 2016

The Maestro's Movers: Neil Woodford's Big Buys and Sells in November 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 comparatively easy as--I am sure many of you know this--he publishes the entire breakdown of his fund each month. Very unusual, but also very interesting.

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 November 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, £8.11 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 November

So what companies has Woodford been 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:

5Theravance BiopharmaNASDAQ:TBPH25.50%
6Spire HealthcareLON:SPI25.00%
8Northwest BiotherapeuticsNASDAQ:NWBO24.91%
9Non-Standard FinanceLON:NSF24.36%
10Babcock InternationalLON:BAB22.99%
12VPC Specialty Lending CLON:VSL19.96%
15P2P GlobalLON:P2P16.40%
18Breedon AggregatesLON:BREE14.28%
20Mercia TechnologiesLON:MERC13.81%
234D PharmaLON:DDDD12.39%
25Crystal AmberLON:CRS11.26%
26RM2 InternationalLON:RM211.16%
29P2P Global CLON:P2P9.63%
32Reynolds AmericanNYSE:RAI9.08%
33VPC Specialty LendingLON:VSL9.06%
34BCA MarketplaceLON:BCA8.91%
36BAE SystemsLON:BA8.59%
37Imperial InnovationsLON:IVO8.56%
38Oxford PharmascienceLON:OXP8.26%
43Tissue RegenixLON:TRX7.01%
45Burford CapitalLON:BUR6.40%
46Raven RussiaLON:RUS6.35%
47British American TobaccoLON:BATS5.50%
50Midatech PharmaLON:MTPH4.04%
52Game DigitalLON:GAME3.43%
53Legal & GeneralLON:LGEN3.17%
54Imperial TobaccoLON:IMT3.11%

As you can see, Woodford went on something of a buying spree this month adding noticeably to over 55 holdings. there were, usual the familiar names in there. But most interestingly is the sheer number of companies in bold. Fresh top-ups taking advantage of the dips.

Woodford's Big Sells in November

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:

2Allied MindsLON:ALM-5.67%
5Oakley CapitalLON:OCL-3.98%
Of course, the big one of note this month was Rolls Royce which he practically sold out of completely.Nonetheless, for me, no less interesting is the reduced position in Capita. I will be interested to see whether this is just a one off or part of a larger move out of the services company by Woodford. We will see.

Woodford's Moves 

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

The biggest sale was Rolls-Royce, of course. He had been adding to this position until September 2015. He sold out due to concerns about their cash flow ability. I must admit to recently beginning to share this concern. I have not yet decided on whether to move out of my own investment in the business yet. Unless I find a more appealing investment elsewhere, I may well stay put. We will see.

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

Like what you have read?
Sign up to receive FREE email updates when new content is published:

Why not also follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook?

[Image reproduced from Woodford Investment Management]


  1. Thanks for the usual detailed update, DD. Always interesting to see what Woodford is up to - lots of unknown names in there for me to read up on!

    1. My pleasure, weenie! Sorry it was so delayed. Still have a huge backlog of articles to catch up on! Will get there eventually!

  2. I find these interesting articles and look forward to reading them. Seeing what Woodford is up to is always of interest and inspiring.


    1. Richard,

      Glad you find them interesting. So do I when I am compiling them. Often some surprising moves. What I'd really like to see is how well my assessment of his moves follows his real moves at the lower end of the share purchases/sales. Obviously, the bigger buys/sells are fairly obvious.

      Do you have any money in Woodford's funds?