Register to get unlimited access to all of Citywire’s Fund Manager database. Registration is free and only takes a minute.

5 shares pros are buying and selling

A roundup of trades by professional investors, including Neil Woodford. This time we look at Synairgen, Ashmore, Macfarlane, Wilmington and Acal.

If you'd like to receive news alerts on any of the stocks mentioned, click on the star icons below to add them to your favourites.

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
Key stats
Market capitalisation£48m
No. of shares out91m
No. of shares floating83m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees16
Trading volume (10 day avg.)4m
Turnover£0m
Profit before tax£-2m
Earnings per share-2.72p
Cashflow per share-2.64p
Cash per share1.72p

*Correct as at 25 Jul 2014

A roundup of shares by professional

Neil Woodford, the best UK investor of his generation, has taken a big chunk of biotech minnow Synairgen (SYNG) a month after it licensed an asthma drug for a fee worth up to $225 million (£131 million).

Citywire A-rated Woodford went from below a reportable holding in the business to owning 19%, or 17.5 million shares worth £9.1 million at a share price of 52p.

The manager - who has offered the best long-term risk-adjusted return of any UK investor - left Invesco Perpetual, his employer of more than 25 years, earlier this year to launch his own business.

Shares in Synairgen briefly spiked more than 40% in June following the announcement of the deal with AstraZeneca, before deflating as the company placed 12.2 million shares to fund development.

AstraZeenca will pay the company an up-front fee of $7.3 million with the remainder subject to targets, in addition to royalties. Broker FinnCap has a 108p target price on the business.

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
Key stats
Market capitalisation£2,562m
No. of shares out707m
No. of shares floating330m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees251
Trading volume (10 day avg.)1m
Turnover£356m
Profit before tax£202m
Earnings per share28.68p
Cashflow per share29.66p
Cash per share70.80p

*Correct as at 25 Jul 2014

Ashmore

Jerome Booth has reduced his holding in Ashmore (ASHM), the investment firm he helped establish.

Booth has sold 6.2 million shares in Ashmore – worth approximately £23 million – to take his stake down to 42.2 million shares, equivalent to 6% of the company.

Booth retired from Ashmore, where he had been head of research, last year. He was involved in the group’s creation in 1999 through a management buyout from ANZ Bank.

Booth then formed a new venture called New Sparta through which he invests in other enterprises, including Icon Film Distribution, which owns titles such as La Vie en Rose and Drive in its portfolio.

Ashmore itself is an asset manager focused on emerging markets. Analysts at Citi recently warned that there was ‘room for disappointment’ in its share price if it suffered adverse currency movements or reported weaker margins. They noted that it was also ‘one of the most shorted stocks in the sector’.

Citi’s target price for the stock is 360p, the level at which they are currently trading.

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
Key stats
Market capitalisation£45m
No. of shares out115m
No. of shares floating82m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees728
Trading volume (10 day avg.)0m
Turnover£144m
Profit before tax£3m
Earnings per share3.02p
Cashflow per share4.19p
Cash per share0.42p

*Correct as at 25 Jul 2014

Macfarlane Group

Citywire AA-rated small cap veteran Gervais Williams has upped his investment in packaging specialist Macfarlane Group (MACF) following a 25% slide in its share price over the last three months.

Williams upped his holding in the company from 6.6 million shares to 7.1 million or 6.2% worth £2.8 million at a share price of 39p, down from a 12-year high of 49p in April this year.

The shares, which currently yield 4.5%, are held in his £266 million small-cap dividend-focused Diverse Income Trust (DIVI). Charles Stanley rates Macfarlane an add with a price target of 55p.

Despite some concerns about a persistent long-term pension deficit the business has managed to expand in recent years while consistently either maintaining or increasing its dividend.

In an update in May the company reported a marginal improvement in sales but warned that this was at the cost of some of its margin. It added that it expected volumes to improve in the second half, however.

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
Key stats
Market capitalisation£172m
No. of shares out86m
No. of shares floating71m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees742
Trading volume (10 day avg.)0m
Turnover£85m
Profit before tax£4m
Earnings per share4.07p
Cashflow per share13.28p
Cash per share9.18p

*Correct as at 25 Jul 2014

Wilmington Group

Aberdeen’s head of UK and European equities Jeremy Whitley has upped his stake in business training, publishing and compliance services business Wilmington Group (WIL) as its shares slide.

Whitley increased his stake in the business from 10.1 million shares to 10.3 million, or 12%, worth around £20.4 million.

The shares are held in his £213 million Aberdeen UK Smaller Companies fund. Broker Peel Hunt cut its target price on Wilmington from 280p to 265p in May while N+1 Singer has a target of 218p.

In a trading update the company reported revenue for the first quarter up 5% on the year before but warned the strength of the pound this year had had a ‘small negative’ impact on overseas earnings.

It also reported its legal division was continuing to face weak market conditions, but said it had taken action to defend margins.

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
Key stats
Market capitalisation£140m
No. of shares out63m
No. of shares floating58m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees719
Trading volume (10 day avg.)0m
Turnover£212m
Profit before tax£4m
Earnings per share8.06p
Cashflow per share13.29p
Cash per share41.99p

*Correct as at 25 Jul 2014

Acal

Whitley has also more than doubled his position in electronics supplier Acal (ACL).

Through the Aberdeen UK Smaller Companies fund that his team manages, Whitley purchased another 4.5 million shares in Acal, worth around £10 million. His fund now owns 8.5 million Acal shares, equivalent to 14% of the company.

Last month Acal bought Noratel, a designer and manufacturer of electromagnetic products that is headquartered in Norway. Acal financed the deal in part through a £55 million rights issue, but advised that the acquisition was ‘expected to be immediately significantly accretive to underlying earnings’ – even excluding any benefits from cost savings.

Acal itself has been surging recently, with revenue up by 17% in the year to 31 March 2014 and operating profit jumping by 29%.

The £224 million Aberdeen UK Smaller Companies fund has returned an annualised 21% over the past five years, just ahead of the 20% recorded by its benchmark small-cap index through the period.

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

Related Fund Managers

Neil Woodford
Neil Woodford
29/78 in Equity - UK Equity Income (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 48.53%
Gervais Williams
Gervais Williams
6/78 in Equity - UK Equity Income (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 74.85%
Jeremy Whitley
Jeremy Whitley
69/78 in Equity - UK Equity Income (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 31.60%
Your Business: Cover Star Club

Profile: The godfather of fund-of-hedge-funds on the sector's future

Profile: The godfather of fund-of-hedge-funds on the sector's future

When Dixon Boardman started 26 years ago ‘there were 600 hedge funds and only 100 had $100 million – it was not even a cottage industry,’

Wealth Manager on Twitter