Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Maestro's Movers: Neil Woodford's Big Buys and Sells in August 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 August 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, £6.74 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 August

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:

2Provident FinancialLON:PFG24.09%
5Northwest BiotherapeuticsNASDAQ:NWBO14.81%
10Game DigitalLON:GAME11.77%
11Spire HealthcareLON:SPI11.52%
12Legal & GeneralLON:LGEN10.03%
13Imperial TobaccoLON:IMT9.79%
14BAE SystemsLON:BA9.15%
18Babcock InternationalLON:BAB8.03%
19British American TobaccoLON:BATS7.71%
21Reynolds AmericanNYSE:RAI6.96%
234D PharmaLON:DDDD6.56%
24Allied MindsLON:ALM6.39%
26RM2 InternationalLON:RM25.75%
31Imperial InnovationsLON:IVO3.02%

Woodford's Big Sells in August

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:

5Burford CapitalLON:BUR-3.02%

Woodford's Moves 

Like last month, Woodford has been doing a lot of buying but little in the way of selling.

Interestingly he increased his holding in the reinsurer, Amlin, during August before the announced acquisition by Mitsui Sumitomo. Presumably he had an inkling about it before us (or was just very fortunate). His beefing up of his holding in Lancashire--again--may indicate he thinks that an acquisition is heading in that direction too. Even without that, the company remains attractive in my eyes though.

Again, the FTSE 100 giants feature heavily in the buys list. He has clearly not softened his view of his big pharma holdings (GSK and Astrazeneca). Similarly, he seems equally bullish on the tobacco giants with both Imperial Tobacco and BATS jumping higher.

The engineers also look like they tempted Woodford. BAE and Rolls Royce both saw massive inflows of additional capital and Babcock continues to grow.

On the shrinking side the big standout for me was Centrica. It has fallen from 2.84% of his fund to just 1.44% with (from my calculations) him selling about 30 million of his 71 million shares in the company in July. That is quite a change especially on the back of his continued buying of the company of late. 

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

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[Image reproduced from Woodford Investment Management]


  1. Thanks for compiling this as usual, DD. Quite tempting to just follow what Woodford is doing, if only I had the capital to do so, haha! The Amlin purchases...he must have suspected something and I bet he'll be hanging on for the £6.70 per share!

    1. My pleasure, weenie! Glad you found them interesting.

      Yes, he may have had some inkling as to the Amlin purchase. However, he has been loading up on specialty insurers for some time so he may have just got lucky with Amlin!

  2. If only he wouldn't buy into tobacco so much... I'd love to buy into a well-managed fund such as his are.

    1. I am often tempted to open a position in his fund myself.

      Nick Train may be more attractive on that front. He is much less exposed to tobacco. Though the yield is quite low in comparison!