Neil Woodford fund records strong total return for 2014

Neil-WoodfordSix months after fund manager Neil Woodford launched his flagship fund, CF Woodford Equity Income, the return provides a promising start to the New Year.

The Woodford fund returned 6.91% before fees from its inception in June to the end of 2014, and is ranked second in the Investment Association's Equity Income Sector.

The only fund to pip Woodford was the Majedie UK Income, with a return of 7.79% after fees.

Over the same period, the average equity income fund returned 0.62%, and the FTSE All-Share, the Woodford fund's benchmark, has fallen 1.12%.

The Woodford fund, which was the top seller of the month when it launched in June, has a current size of £4.28 billion (€5.48 billion).

At the end of December 2014, health care was the star fund manager's greatest sector allocation, followed by industrials and consumer goods. The UK was his greatest geographical allocation, followed by the US and Switzerland.

The fund's top ten holdings featured pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, and tobacco companies Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco.

AstraZeneca, which represented 7.36% of the portfolio at December 31, 2014, dodged a takeover bid from US rival Pfizer last year. Woodford had openly supported AstraZeneca's independence.

Woodford – who left Invesco Perpetual to launch his own asset management company, Woodford Investment Management, in May 2014 – has also been outspoken on other key issues in the industry, putting forward his views on topics such as "fine inflation" and overpriced fees over the last year.

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