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4 shares the pros are buying and selling

Our regular roundup of trades by professional investors, featuring Lancashire Holdings, Cambria Automobiles, Flowtech Fluidpower and Sophos.

by David Campbell, Selin Bucak on Oct 23, 2017 at 05:01

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Key stats
Market capitalisation£1,346m
No. of shares out200m
No. of shares floating188m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees103
Trading volume (10 day avg.)1m
Turnover416m USD
Profit before tax230m USD
Earnings per share0.58 USD
Cashflow per share0.59 USD
Cash per share1.17 USD

Lancashire Holdings

UK equity income manager Neil Woodford has cut his stake in speciality insurance and reinsurance firm Lancashire Holdings (LRE), as the company is expected to take a further hit from recent hurricanes.

Woodford took his holding in the business from just 14.7% to 7.7% or 15.4 million shares worth £103 million at a price of 671.5p, down 8% over the last three months. The shares are mainly held in his Woodford Equity Income fund.

Lancashire Holdings is an insurance company that covers oil rigs, ships and aircraft. It recently said that hurricanes in the Caribbean and the US, as well as the earthquakes in Mexico would cost it between $106 million and $212 million.

The FTSE 250 company added the estimates fell within its modelled loss ranges. Group chief executive Alex Maloney, said: ‘The extensive news coverage turned our thoughts to those whose lives, livelihoods and businesses were devastated by these forces of nature. As we assess the financial impact of these losses for Lancashire, these events illustrate the value of our products to our clients.’

Key stats
Market capitalisation£66m
No. of shares out100m
No. of shares floating50m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees1175
Trading volume (10 day avg.)1m
Profit before tax£13m
Earnings per share9.26p
Cashflow per share11.10p
Cash per share19.82p

Cambria Automobiles

Citywire AA-rated small cap stockpicker Giles Hargreave has pared his stake in car dealership Cambria Automobiles (CAMB) as its shares continue to trade sideways in a two-year holding pattern.

Hargreaves cut his investment from 5.9% to 3.8% of the company, a stake of 3.8 million shares worth £2.4 million at a share price of 63p. This is effectively static on October 2015 and down from a year high of 76p.

The shares are primarily held in his £997 million Marlborough UK Micro Cap Growth and £148 million Marlborough Nano Cap Growth funds.

Cambria was founded in 2006 to consolidate and turn round underperforming car dealerships. In an update issued last month the business reported trading ahead of prior years, but said it remained cautious on subdued demand and surging inflation.

In an interview with the Telegraph in May Cambria boss mark Lavery said that a recent boom in car sales had now come to an end, following a record 2.7 million sales in 2016, but that the market should stabilise between 5% and 10% lower.

Key stats
Market capitalisation£87m
No. of shares out53m
No. of shares floating51m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees291
Trading volume (10 day avg.)m
Profit before tax£8m
Earnings per share10.08p
Cashflow per share12.60p
Cash per share8.88p

Flowtech Fluidpower

Small company stock picker Gervais Williams has reduced his stake in technical fluid power product distributor Flowtech Fluidpower (FLO), following a 29.7% rise in its share price over one year.

Williams and co-manager Martin Turner have pared back their holding in the business from 13.7% to 12.4%, a stake of 6.5 million shares worth £10.8 million at a share price of 165.35p.

The shares are held in their multi-cap dividend mandate the Diverse Income (DIVI) investment trust, as well as the Miton UK Smaller Companies and the Miton UK Multi-Cap Income funds.

AIM-listed Flowtech Fluidpower recently revealed a 34% rise in revenues for the nine months to 30 September to £54.5 million. Since the start of the year, the firm made six acquisitions which helped to bolster its geographical and sector coverage.

In a trading statement the company noted that the acquisitions ‘clearly reinforce the ongoing strategy to develop a focused fluid power group that serves a wide number of industry sectors, allowing a de-risking of some of the cyclical nature of the business’.

Key stats
Market capitalisation£2,599m
No. of shares out450m
No. of shares floatingm
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees1473
Trading volume (10 day avg.)-100,000m
Profit before tax£15m
Earnings per share-9,999,999.00p
Cashflow per share3.01p
Cash per share0.42p

Sophos Group

Citywire AA-rated global growth investor Parvez Rostom has shaved his exposure to tech security business Sophos Group (SOPH) following a doubling in its share price over the last six months.

Rostom reduced his holding from just over 5% to 4.9% of the company, a stake of 23.2 million shares worth £136 million at a share price of 593p. The shares have rallied from 276p in April but closed at 577.5p on Friday after a 13.5p fall. The shares are primarily held in the Franklin International Growth fund, run by Rostom alongside Citywire A-rated co-managers Don Huber and Coleen Barbeau.

Sophos, which provides anti-virus and encryption software to mid-sized businesses, began to soar in April when it said it expected full-year 2016 results to beat a series of consensus estimates. In a July update it said outperformance had continued into its current year with billable account growth running at 30% over the three months to June.

The aggressive rerating has outstripped analysts’ attempts to keep pace, however. While a majority retain buy ratings the share price gains have overshot their median target of 536p.

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  • Lancashire Holdings Ltd (LRE.L)
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  • Cambria Automobiles PLC (CAMBA.L)
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  • Flowtech Fluidpower PLC (FLOL.L)
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  • Sophos Group PLC (SOPH.L)
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