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New managers reveal details of revamped Woodford fund before relaunch tomorrow

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The new managers of Neil Woodford’s Income Focus fund have released details of their revamped portfolio ahead of the fund’s relaunch tomorrow.

Thomas Moore and Charles Luke have completely overhauled the fund – now known as ASI Income Focus – with none of the top 10 holdings under the previous manager appearing in the new top 10.

The managers have removed Woodford’s strong bias towards UK domestic focused businesses and brought in more internationally exposed companies.

Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) said it had “improved the liquidity” of the holdings, “increased the portfolio’s sector diversification”, and “sold down structurally challenged companies”.

New domestically focused holdings include Close Brothers, energy giant SSE and property firm Assura.

Meanwhile, some of the new internationally exposed names in the fund include Coca-Cola Hellenic, TUI Group and emerging markets fund manager, Ashmore.

ASI said: “Diversification and portfolio balance are key considerations in the construction of this concentrated portfolio of 30-40 stocks. The managers will emphasise stock specific opportunities, whilst minimising the risk that one economic scenario dominates returns.”

The fund has underperformed during the transition period, down 4% against the FTSE All Share over the course of January 2020.

ASI said the underperformance was partly down to the costs incurred for transitioning the portfolio.

ASI Income Focus will re-open tomorrow (13 February) four months after investors in Woodford Income Focus were trapped when the £267m fund was suspended.

Investors will be able to buy and sell shares from midday today (12 February).

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, said: “Investors now need to judge whether to keep the revamped fund or move on. It’s therefore important for investors to understand how the new managers think and get a feel for the types of company that they will likely invest in, to then be able to judge what the likely performance profile of the fund will be.

“Those investors who originally invested in the fund for income need to be aware that the fund has changed its income target from ‘5p per share per annum’ to ‘a yield higher than the average yield of the FTSE All Share Index over a rolling 3yr period’.

“In reality, this means the income paid on the fund is likely to be lower going forwards than before.”


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