4 shares the pros are buying and selling
A roundup of trades by professional investors. This time, we look at Countrywide, Jubilee Platinum, Bioquell and Restore.
Derek Mitchell grabs bigger slice of Countrywide
Veteran UK mid-cap manager Derek Mitchell has upped his investment in Countrywide (CWD.L), one of the UK’s biggest estate agents, after a slide in the company’s share price.
Mitchell increased his investment in the business from 8.75 million shares to 8.77 million or 4% worth £53.8 million at a share price of 614p. Shares have dropped by 9% in the last month.
The shares are held in his £580 million Royal London UK Opportunities fund and also in his colleague Bradley Mitchell’s £477 million Royal London UK Growth fund.
Countrywide has gone ex-dividend in the past month but alongside other housing-related stocks, such as Barratt and Berkeley, has been swept along in the wake of a sell-off led by tech stocks.
Credit Suisse upped its price target against the business at the end of February from 730p to 745p, rated outperform.
The company reported a 234% increase in operating profit to £56 million last year as it reaped the benefits of the jump-started housing market while earnings per share rose 65% to 24.4p.
Jubilee Platinum loses shine for Dobell
UK equity veteran Tom Dobell of M&G has cut losses on part of his holding in long-term laggard Jubilee Platinum (JLP.L), a South African miner and metals processor.
Dobell cut his holding in the company from 56.1 million shares to 51.4 million or 10.2% worth £873,800 at a share price of 1.7p, down 93.7% over the last three years.
The shares are held in his £7.2 billion M&G Recovery fund. Mistimed commodity bets have been a major factor in the fund’s sustained period of underperformance in recent years.
Platinum prices have fallen almost 27% over recent years from a high above $1,900 in 2011 to a current price just below $1,400.
Loss-making Jubilee holds the rights to a new method of platinum smelting offering significant efficiency savings. The company reduced operating losses to £1.5 million in the second half of last year, compared to £4.7 million in the same period of 2012.
Cross and Fosh buy Bioquell
Citywire AA-rated star UK equity duo Anthony Cross and Julian Fosh have upped their conviction in decontamination and pharmaceutical services business Bioquell (BIOQ.L) on share weakness.
The two managers increased their holding in the business from 3.99 million to 4.21 million or 10.1% worth £5.1 million at a share price of 122p. The shares are held in their £277 million Liontrust UK Smaller Companies fund.
Bioquell slumped almost 10% in mid-March after the company reported profit for 2013 down 22.5% on the same period of the year before, from £4 million to £3.1 million following a ‘tough year’.
Investec cut its price target following the announcement, from 147p to 133p, rated hold.
The fall, which came despite a 9% increase in revenue, followed £900,000 of restructuring and redundancy charges as the company reoriented its decontamination division toward life sciences.
Slater has faith in Restore
Citywire A-rated fund manager Mark Slater has topped up his position in Restore (RSTP.L), a firm that handles other businesses’ documents.
Slater has acquired an additional 400,000 shares – worth around £730,000 – in the company, meaning he now owns just over 4% of the group.
Restore reported last month that it had boosted its profits by 61% in 2013 to £10 million, and over the past year its share price has surged by 45.7% while the broader market is up by only 3.7%.
Led by Charles Skinner – whose varied career has taken him from editor of Management Today to boss of a dry-cleaner via stints in investment banking and private equity – Restore has three main divisions: managing other people’s records, scanning their documents, and securely shredding and recycling their papers.
Slater has enjoyed a good year too. According to Citywire data he has returned 27.4% through his Slater Growth and Slater Recovery funds over the past 12 months, above the average of 15.5% from his peer group of fund managers.