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Diary of a Dumb Investor: I'm up and down after rally

My portfolio is looking healthier after the market rebound, but I would be doing better if had sat on my hands.

Diary of a Dumb Investor: I'm up and down after rally

My portfolio is looking a little healthier following the rebound in the market, but I know that's not going to stop the questions about the overhaul I undertook.

'I'll wager his sells outperform his buys over the next 12 months' claimed Cueball after I sold some of my worst investments and picked the Bankers (BNKR ) investment trust to provide some 'backbone' to my portfolio.

Anthony Tinslay meanwhile demanded more details on my Rolls-Royce (RR) sale. 'Your "slowness" to act might have saved some of your Rolls-Royce loss but at what price did you actually sell?' he asked, before cautioning me on the broker costs I had incurred.

And my choice of Bankers for a global fund prompted more bemusement. 'Aren't you trying to catch a falling knife?' asked Maverick.

Well, Cueball, so far you are right. I'm relieved at the lift my portfolio has received. It's risen to £16,904, up around 21% on when I took over the portfolio nearly four years ago. Not the greatest return, granted, but still better than where I was a few weeks ago.

But looking through the performance of the shares I sold since I dumped them shows I would have done better had I just stayed put. Had I stayed in the European tracker I would have made around £134, while selling out of Imagination Technologies (IMG) at 149p has cost me £133, with the shares now around 173p.

Rolls-Royce shares are now around 709p, up on the 612p price I sold them at (so there you have it, Anthony Tinslay), costing me £96, while Pearson (PSON) has jumped from 776p to 865p since I sold it, costing me £78.

Tally this all together, add on the £11.95 transaction charge for each of the three share sales, and that makes a loss of £504. I've lost £28 on my Mattioli Woods (MTWL) buy so far, including transaction costs, meaning the £187 gained on Bankers is only enough to reduce my net loss on all these transactions to £317.

So the £16,904 I've got sitting in my portfolio would be £17,221 if I'd just sat on my hands. And that's before I count the cost of some of my automated sales. My 'stop loss' on Lloyds (LLOY) was triggered at 68p, saving me from the bottom of this year's banking sell-off, but also meaning I missed out on recouping some of my losses as the shares surged on news of bumper dividends. Taylor Wimpey (TW) too has now crept up above the 170p price at which my stop loss was set.

All this has left me with mixed feelings. For all that some of my worst investments have rebounded, had I held onto them I would still be left with a disparate bunch of stocks lacking a coherent strategy. Admittedly though, a more coherent investment philosophy seems a small crumb of comfort when it's come at a cost of over £300.

Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that although my aims were hopefully laudable, trying to address fundamental asset allocation issues as markets are tumbling is a bad idea. Maybe it's just a time to cling on before making those kind of changes later on.

Despite leaving me worse off over the last couple of weeks, I do think my changes leave the portfolio in better stead. I've got more exposure to broader global markets through Bankers, even if it led to some of you scratching your heads. I know that the investment trust's performance does not exactly set the world alight, with broadly mid-ranking results among its rivals over one, five and 10 years.

If you were going on past performance alone, you would plump for Scottish Mortgage (SMT ), which has delivered roughly double Bankers' returns over the last decade. But if markets are shifting to 'value' investing after a long stint in the wilderness, a high growth fund could come unstuck. Plus, Bankers' relatively high yield for a global trust of 2.7%, and its long track record of growing the dividend (49 years and counting) adds some solidity to my investments. Added to that, the shares were looking cheap, having fallen to a bigger discount to net asset value than normal. So, Maverick, hopefully not a 'falling knife'.

As for the rest of my portfolio, I know there's work to be done. My high weighting to the 'early stage' growth companies held in the Woodford Patient Capital (WPCT ) investment trust stands out like a sore thumb, and the trust appears bereft of any momentum, having fallen further since my last update, despite the rally.

That will be next to go, and could spark a big buying spree, with around £1,700 of my portfolio already sitting in cash. I'm off to draw up a list of potential buys.

My portfolio: Click to enlarge

Any opinions expressed by Citywire or its staff do not constitute a personal recommendation to you to buy, sell, underwrite or subscribe for any particular investment and should not be relied upon when making (or refraining from making) any investment decisions. In particular, the information and opinions provided by Citywire do not take into account your personal circumstances, objectives and attitude towards risk.

38 comments so far. Why not have your say?

andy mac

Mar 07, 2016 at 14:10

I though you were using HL as your platform but the screenshot does not look like a HL screen. Who are you now using or is it just a different screen mode

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gggggg hjhjkl;'

Mar 07, 2016 at 14:42


As a wealth destroying mechanism you portfolio certainly has it nailed!!!

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geoffrey Walton

Mar 07, 2016 at 16:03

I share your thoughts on Woodford Patient I am down about 28% on it as I bought at 115p. It's like changing cars though . Every time you change it makes the dealer rich. I am inclined to think of holding for a few years, but would not like to be down 50%, which is the way it could be looking.!

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David Andrews

Mar 07, 2016 at 17:14

Maybe it's necessary to add "spice" to your article, but when you are talking about "costing me £ 78 " and " I lost £ 28 on...", it just shows me that - for my taste anyway - you are holding a foolishly large number of shares for your small portfolio, worsened by holding several individual company shares.

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Mar 07, 2016 at 17:18

andy mac, I think the image is a selective screen grab from HL's PDF download version of the account:

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Mar 07, 2016 at 17:39

You need to look more long term, think you are too focus and the short game, how much a share has gone up in the last month. Its about building a quality portfolio. Why but MTW? In these times I would be buying more larger companies.

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Mar 07, 2016 at 17:43

Why on Earth did you take up WPCT if you are so impatient?! When you bought, the prospectus stated that it was for investors taking a ten year view or more. Just don't look at it until 2025.

You should decide on your aims, your timeframe, your risk tolerance then your asset allocation, and then shape your pf bit by bit as time goes by, always nearing your decided allocation.

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Mar 07, 2016 at 17:58

a quick thought on diversification of risk.

you can achieve almost all the diversification you need with around 25 stocks.

you can choose to treat the different funds you own as single stocks, but, to me at any rate, you are actually owning a portfolio of many thousands of stocks and are over diversified. this means that you are a closet passive investor who is paying active fees for no result.

i think you would be happier narrowing your investment strategy down into directly holding shares in 25 companies that you like.

i have some sympathy with using a fund product to gain access to a sector (e.g. japanese small cap), but really, you will know less than zero about the companies that such a fund invests in and therefore have no control over outcomes (you are punting).

for myself, I have only 5 stocks, costing 200 pounds a year in a SIPP and I don't trade. this portfolio has had beter returns that the FTSE-100, with a correlation of close to 1 for much less risk. I am not pursuing capital gains at this time as I am reasonably convinced we are in a long term bear market and will only pursue capital gains again once the central banks have had their mandates reduced to providing only bank notes and governments are producing the fiscal surpluses necessary to retire the national debt, as apposed to the "death by a thousand cuts" fiscal policies of failing western governments.

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Anthony Tinslay

Mar 07, 2016 at 18:17

DL - thanks for the detail but I am not at all surprised that you are no better off - in the short term. I am no supporter of Woodford Patient Capital and am mystified at your comment that it will be next to go. Strongly suggest that you re-read the prospectus and your own comments when buying. Once making the (poor) decision to buy the shares they should have been locked away for at least five years. It now seems likely that you will sell out at what will be the historic low - as you have done before.elsewhere. The reason to buy WPC is the same now as when you and all the other lemming type investors went in - i.e. a high risk, likely volatile investment, including unquoted and for now, unmarketable securities, with faith in one person's belief as to how things will turn out.

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Mar 07, 2016 at 18:38

I maintain a rigid stop/loss system but my one exception is Woodford Patient Capital. The prospectus made it clear that this was a long term hold because of the nature of the companies in which the fund is invested so my advice would be to set this particular investment aside and swallow any losses. If you sell now you clearly could not have read the prospectus when you decided to buy.

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Sara G

Mar 07, 2016 at 19:21

I think it's best to look at the portfolio as a whole. In my case WPCT is one of my worst performers at the moment - but gains from mining funds and the falling £ / rising $ have made up for that many times over. Someone once said that if there isn't something in your portfolio that you hate, then you're doing something wrong! For my part I'm contemplating topping up WPCT.

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Mar 07, 2016 at 19:46

"Bankers' relatively high yield for a global trust of 2.7%"


BRWM yields 8.81% at tonight's price, around 2/3 of which is payable this month. It's on a discount of 14%. It's rallied strongly in the last two weeks but is still less than a third of its 5-year high.

Maybe your last chance to pick up a relative bargain ?

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Mar 08, 2016 at 10:19

Hooligan, as someone who overtrades and is over-diversified I like the sound of your approach ! I've never come across anyone with a portfolio as concentrated as yours.

I'd be interested to know which are your five stocks if you feel like sharing ?

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Mar 08, 2016 at 11:31

sure - i posted them on a previous article here.


these five have had pluses and minuses (full three year period when FTSE-100 was around 6,500) of 10-30% with a net of -2.5% capital and 12% income over the full period. (FTSE-100 has no income in the index level, but its one I could grab easily here

my personal is personal to my circumstances, though I could add a Brewery!, and is intended to cover my utility bills, groceries, driving and the ubiqutous cell phone (am considering Sky or BT as well).

it is a fire and forget portfolio that was originally set up with equal weights using free data from

i tried to locate stocks with stable to growing dividends and one of my fabourite ratios, the PEG (price earnings to growth) of close to 1.

I couldn't get Price to Free Cash Flow figures which would have been even better!

Make your own picks to suit your own investment situation and personal circumstances (use dividends to pay your bills) start with an equal weight and tinker with it.

It can be fun, but so many people seem to obsess with their portfolios and insist on investing with soemone else. I have been a fund manager and traded my own account full time. Believe me, paying someone 6-7 figure salaries via fat bloated fees for persistent underperformance is "dumb investing". If fund managers could deliver on their claims, they would not be working for someone else, but would keep the profits.

Focussing on relative to index returns is an area where you can see that the fund management fraternity has an ugly trait of taking a whole bunch of risk (tracking error) for zero persisitence over long periods.

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Mar 08, 2016 at 11:45

actually, there is a great website that tells you what you need to know about looking after your own money here:

the guy who put this together are terrific and since you are your own Trustee, i recommend everyone completes the learning modules here

a few hours on this could save thousands of pounds later

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Mar 08, 2016 at 12:24

Many thanks ! Great insights, especially coming from a (former) insider.

Your approach seems similar to that of Tony Peterson, a trenchant poster here though not recently (hope you're ok Tony ?), whose approach I was trying to emulate until my eyes bulged too wide with perceived "bargains" in the oil, mining and banking industries.

Having just realised how much I'm being fleeced for dealing charges by HL I'm motivated to change. The sources you recommend are new to me, will check them out.

MARS and FST are on my watch-list : Cheers - I owe you one.

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Mar 08, 2016 at 12:37

most welcome and many happy investment returns!

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ben ski

Mar 09, 2016 at 00:14

*Groans* at the Woodford Patient Capital comment ... If you want to be a momentum investor, stop buying closed-ended funds – the trading costs will wipe out any haphazard gains you make

If you've any experience of private equity investing (which WPCT sort of is) 20-30% drops are nothing – they shouldn't even register .. The higher risk (which is risk, and means you aren't guaranteed a profit) is why the market pays you a higher premium

Honestly, if making a profit is the goal, I'd just put it all in RIT Capital Partners .. The mix of quoted, unquoted and hedged alternatives has been extremely hard to beat since Swensen popularised the approach in the 80s – and it means they'll absorb the trading costs ... Plus, with public equities and bonds looking so expensive, it's probably one of the few approaches that has (at least) potential to make positive returns going forwards

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Mar 09, 2016 at 10:44

Anthony Tinslay - WPCT's "lemming type investors " LOL; yes, that's definitely me.

You're quite right at one level. But there's another aspect. The only time our share-buying money actually goes to "help" the companies we buy into is at IPOs and rights issues (is this true ?); otherwise we're always dealing in second-hand goods. The stereotypical story of British industry is that we're good at invention and design but crap at turning them into world-beaters. Maybe a paucity of risk capital is part of that story ?

I got the sense (maybe because he said so at the time ?) that Woodford's intention is to give small investors like me a chance to help launch the companies of the future. Our initial stakes in WPCT have gone to do just that.

Sure I'm looking to make a return too, it's not charity. But to his credit Woodford's not taking a fee until he turns a profit so yes, for the moment I have the faith. Hope that's not ridiculously naive for someone of my years.

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Mar 09, 2016 at 11:05

Here's my thoughts, for what they are worth!

i fully support woodford's approach to fees against performance. although his approach does not take out the impact of the market helping or hindering his ability to charge fees, it at least has clarity and puts his own "skin in the game".

i hope it catches the eye of the regulators as well.

The focus on absolute returns is also a good one - it is "proper investing". I would not worry overly much about the returns over the last year. I doubt whether the nature of the investments lend themselves to a "proper" valuation (and performance) and will be subject to what I see as a major issue with stock market pricing of shares in general, namely that trading in less than 1% of the market capitalization of a company can move the price of the other more than 99% of shares by 10-20%.

You are as likely to see outperformance of Woodford PCT by this amount in future as you are underperformance. The trick is to identify whether the PCT approach is systemically flawed and will always underperform. I think Woodford's credentials suggest this is not the case.

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Anthony Tinslay

Mar 09, 2016 at 15:29

Thanks Kempen. What you say and indeed what I said earlier are in agreement. The "Lemmings" were all those(incl. DI) who poured in largely based on one man's previous record rather than fully understanding quite where the funds were being invested and what was expected. As another above rightly points out these types of underlying investments are highly volatile in the short term and risk level can change rapidly. Anyone who bought to lock away for at least five years will probably do rather well as Woodford does not earn until the IT does. Clearly our Dumb investor is not in that category and takes fright at the earliest setback before panic sets in. He should not be there in the first place so may as well take the loss now rather than worry for the next few years.

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Mar 10, 2016 at 03:34

ah gee whiz, your losses, whilst big for you, are chicken feed for my portfolio, I can lose more than that in one day and again make as much, if not more, the next.

On Lloyds, you lost out on the 1.5 p divis lst year, and the 2 p payout on 17 May. Hey, we are in interesting times, but even then the divis are important. I added more @160p, and also Centrica @190p

At the moment, for me, the miners weigh heavily.

Continual dealing profits only the brokers.

Another detail you do not give is your original outlay which compared to the current value is a fair indicator of your success, or otherwise, knocking off from that the shares you sell, the price achieved.

Bear in mind a solid divi payer is a valuable company.

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Smiggdogg via mobile

Mar 11, 2016 at 13:31

Sell your portfolio!

Put it in Fundsmith and forget about it!

Investors are there own worst enemies!

You will be better off down the line.

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Mar 13, 2016 at 20:36

I hear what you lot say about Woodford Patient Capital (is the name perhaps significant?), but I looked at it and chose to go for Fundsmith Equity instead. It has returned 15.7% over the last year instead of the Woodford Trust's minus14% since launch.

Yes, I know Fundsmith is a unit trust. It's the one exception to my rule.

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Mark Stringer

Mar 14, 2016 at 07:23

I bought WPCT at £1.00 at launch and bailed out at £1.17 thinking that nothing continues to rise or hold its price without some underlying reason, such as, profit (despite all the ramping and hyperbole) and recall one of Woodford's competitors saying WPCT was riding the wave of hype from Woodford's former glory.

I am also pretty sure that Woodford has a get out clause after the end of year two which was in the original offer document.

I read these forums and am amazed at the excellent grasp some posters have of investments, but also assume that they have significant portfolios and years in the "game" especially the dividend hunters and investment trust investors.

I have learnt to my cost that I am no good playing the long term game or hunt the dividend's and I simply don't have that much time (7-10 years perhaps before I need to drawdown to supplement other income) and tend to stick to 4-8 buys and sells per year normally of a single share (BT & Lloyds have done me well, although got fingers a little singed on my second of three buy/sell on BT last year before it bounced again) or two at most.

I now won't touch anything until after the EU vote in June and I know many experienced investors will be rolling their eyes, but it is horses for courses and I do get a moderate return over the year (generally better than Standard Life who had it before) and it is highly,highly unlikely that I will ever be a millionaire investor or live off of income from my SIPP.

I have never really followed Diary of a dumb investor, although have been aware of it, as I had assumed it was purely a vehicle to provoke discussion and extension of a career in journalism. It certainly does get posters to ask good questions and the more experienced investors to provide ideas and information though.

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Mar 14, 2016 at 09:56

your policy looks good to me Mark.

behind all this is a reconcilaition of the objective of any investment portfolio.

i support your policy of feeling good about your portfolio rather than blindly handing over the reins to anyone who doesn't even know or care that you exist, as long as you pay nice management fees for uncertain amounts of risk.

as a rule of thumb, if you work out how much money you will need to live on in perpetuity (right size house, health care plans, hobbies, bills etc), the 5% annuity/drawdown rates being touted widely mean that you will need around 1,000 pounds for each pound a week to live on. BEFORE TAX.

500,000 pounds will get you around 500 pounds a week (around 25,000 pounds a year)

1 million pounds is needed to get 1,000 pounds a week.

these numbers can be quite daunting and mean that you need to have a plan that you monitor to ensure that it stays on track.

good luck to you!

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Mark Stringer

Mar 14, 2016 at 19:36

hooligan, a bit daunting that £500,000 for £25,000.

Still it has given me something to aim towards, but I fear I will be drawing down on capital as a supplement and if I reach 80 I'd better start tightening the belt.

But definitely some excellent food for thought on these forums.

I only wish I had discovered IT's years ago.

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Mar 14, 2016 at 19:52

it can be daunting, the logic I used was to work for 40 years, retire for 20 years and use compound interest of returns to, on average, double your investments every 10 years at 7% per annum.

that's all out the window now - q/e for the last 8 years and profligate government spending via 3% compounding fiscal deficits over four decades has stolen the future almost entirely to be consumed on false and impractical socialist policies.

oh well, I won't mention that if we had 8% annuity rates, thianual s 60% increase in pension means a 500,000 final "pot" would buy a 40,000 pension (rather than 25,000 at a 5% annuity rate).

i met my goals by living off interest on capital made in the housing boom and deferring up to 100% of my salary for several years, plus the benefit of inhertiance from frugal parents and a relatively well-off aunt.

now i look at financial markets and think that we are headed for just 2-4% annual returns (your money doubles in 24 years (rather than 10 years).

you might gather from this that i am somewhat hostile to all poltical parties and await someone with the proverbial ba&&s to cut government spending by 20%, reduce taxes by 10% and tackle the accumulated debt. I also view deficits and debt as the result of cheating, fraud and corruption - governments have no intnetion or ability to repay what they borrow and hence are stealing (the taxes and our futures) but then I am a hooligan, so a minority (keep a good grip on your sword!)

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Mar 15, 2016 at 00:50

Hey Dumbo, yes I have lost patience with you.

Old English adage, a fool and his money are soon parted. You claim to be the brother/cousin of the previous one, I think that you are merely a new incarnation, for editorial purposes, of the previous one.

Either you are being provocative, or simply playing bloody stupid. More likely a combination of both and because your masters require you to be able to continue the column.

For the amount of money, you have too many investments. For the frequency of trading, notwithstanding the vagaries of the market over the last couple of years, you have learnt sweet Fanny Adams.

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Mark Stringer

Mar 15, 2016 at 06:23

hooligan, could not agree more that successive governments have/are stealing our futures and do nothing but rearrange the deck chairs on the economic titanic and the "off books" PFI and public sector pensions are a terrifying debt alone, never mind what we see in the public accounts.

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Mar 15, 2016 at 23:05

Mark, and there is a lot that has not been revealed, for political purposes, even though it would benefit the party concerned, short term.

Methinks that the reason for withholding the 'other' information is because they are sailing very close to that wind. Time for transparency in politics. Regretably a forlorn hope.

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Mark Stringer

Mar 16, 2016 at 08:28

Snoekie, yes, you are spot on. We are lions led by donkeys, although feel I'm being unfair to donkeys!

The problem as I see it goes way back to Thatcher and her sleight of hand trick of the pretence that we were all entrepreneurs because she (well, she was the figurehead anyway, the real villains are always hidden) sold us (apart from the scaled down version of the American disease; greed and waste) what we already owned; the council houses, GPO telephone lines, gas, electricity, water etc to do what Teflon Tony Bliar did after 1997 and buy votes in the most disgraceful and wasteful display of skullduggery.

Both of them sowed the seeds of our current lying incompetents Thatcher with the Financial Service Act 1986 and Bliar with his open door immigration policy).

We are hooked on credit now as a nation because of the aspirational lie that we can all be fully employed (work till you drop is now with us), need the bmw, foreign holiday,shiny apple products, big shoes and mass produced throw away clothes.

We finally see that people have become; a commodity (and are as disposable as the throw away clothes that last as long as it takes the till receipt to hit the bin) and are being socially engineered out of any area that can be gentrified.

No doubt Osbourne's transfer of one area of public debt to another area will go ahead today with further short term bribery of what we don't have.

If we had transparency now I don't think the public could handle it, but need to be part of the catalogue of lies as a Jack Nicholson line from a film stated "The truth, you can't handle the truth".

What would happen if most people suddenly accepted that they will no longer be mass consumers,die in poverty, cannot afford to live in their current homes, will be facing a hugely reduced NHS service that will be partly privatised, that all the aspirational swill bin rattling ("in a time of universal deceit-telling the truth is a revolutionary act") advertisers simply sold shiny things, that they cannot simply sell the house and downsize and removal of choice for those of limited means.

I think many of us over the age of 50 have a fair inkling of what is in store for the future as we cannot rob Peter to pay Paul forever and at some stage the tax burden simply has to rise hugely just to stand still.

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Mar 16, 2016 at 16:21

Always thought this was a spoof.

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Mar 17, 2016 at 15:28

Whats happening at HCM down 17% today?

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Mar 17, 2016 at 15:44


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Mar 17, 2016 at 15:49

I see. Thanks.

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ben ski

Apr 11, 2016 at 15:13

I wonder if he sold Woodford Patient Capital before it bounced 12% over the next month

I guess the interesting thing with all this is he didn't *look* like a 'dumb investor' when markets were just going up

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Apr 11, 2016 at 15:57

How about an update now his star has fallen?

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