Interactive Investor

Neil Woodford’s seven trades in January

16th February 2017 16:43

Lee Wild from interactive investor

A lack of oil and gas shares in his portfolio made 2016 one to forget for star fund manager Neil Woodford. He said last month he was sticking to his guns, but there's been no improvement yet.

His CF Woodford Equity Income fund returned a mere 3.2% last year versus 8.8% for the UK equity income sector average and 16.8% for the FTSE All Share index.

Now, Woodford says his fund delivered negative returns in January. With the 'reflation trade' in full swing and further optimism around Chinese growth, it trailed the wider UK market where banks and mining stocks did well, areas where Woodford has no exposure.

He also took a hit on AstraZeneca, whose shares fell over 5% after rival Bristol-Myers Squibb decided against seeking accelerated approval for a new therapy for lung cancer. Woodford thinks sellers are working to fear a similar outcome for Astra's own lung cancer treatment.

It's why he's taken advantage of the share price slump to pick up cheap stock. Woodford's also filled up on Next after the high street fashion struggler issued another profits warning in the first week back after the Christmas and New Year break.

We also hear he's added to stakes in gene-editing technologies firm Horizon Discovery, payments systems firm Paypoint and Norwegian fingerprint sensor outfit Idex.

And there's a new addition to the portfolio this month. Woodford's picked up a "small position" in Honeycomb Investment Trust, a UK-based specialist lender focused on consumer and small-to medium enterprises sectors. Both of these areas remain underserved by mainstream lenders, so perhaps an opportunity here.

Over at the Woodford Patient Capital trust, Woodford pumped some extra cash into unlisted clinical genomics company Inivata, and snapped up some more Theravance Biopharma after the shares fell back after a bright start to 2017.

Looking ahead, Woodford remains cautious on the outlook for the global economy, sceptical about the notion of imminent 'reflation', is unconvinced about the impact that President Trump will have on growth, and concerned about the market's apparent optimism on China.

This article is for information and discussion purposes only and does not form a recommendation to invest or otherwise. The value of an investment may fall. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.