Woodford suspension: alternative funds for investors

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It’s now been over a week since trading in the LF Woodford UK Equity Income fund was suspended following large withdrawals by investors.

The news was met by shock across the industry and much has been made of the fall of fund manager Neil Woodford, who is arguably the most well-known stock picker in the UK and a stalwart in many investor portfolios.

The fund is suspended for a minimum of 28 days to allow Woodford to sell some of his holdings to meet the demand for withdrawals, at the end of that period a call will be made on whether the fund can start trading.

However, many investors may well want to look elsewhere following a loss of trust in the asset manager – something which has not been helped by the asset managers’ decision not to waive its fees during the suspension, despite calls from many to do so.

Below we look at some of the alternative to the LF Woodford UK Equity Income fund that investors may want to consider for the future.

The stalwart: Artemis Income

A solid core-holding for any investor looking for income for the past two decades, this fund is run by the trio of Adrian Frost, Nick Shenton and Andy Marsh. The fund typically holds between 55-70 stocks and has a bias towards large companies.

The managers look for stocks deemed to be ‘special situations’. These tend to appear in many different sectors, but are driven by similar catalysts: management change, recovery and industry restructuring. The fund has returned 33% in the past five years and has a yield of 4.43%.

The alternative: GAM UK Equity Income

This fund is run by former Artemis Income co-manager Adrian Gosden and invests in companies of all sizes – from the very small through to the FTSE 100.

The fund was launched in 2017 and about half of the portfolio is in small and medium-sized businesses, with the manager not afraid to adjust the portfolio around quite rapidly. Adrian will keep the capacity of the fund limited, allowing him to be flexible in the portfolio positioning. The fund has a yield of 3.95%.

Going global: Fidelity Global Dividend

Fidelity Global Dividend is a core global income fund that invests in companies which offer a healthy and sustainable dividend yield.

Dan Roberts has been managing the fund since its inception in January 2012 and focuses on larger companies. He manages risk conservatively, focusing on companies with predictable, consistent cash flows and simple, understandable business models with little or no debt on their balance sheets. The fund has returned 77.2% to investors over the last five years and yields 2.8%.

Monthly Income: Invesco Perpetual Income Plus

Investors with growing day-to-day needs may opt to invest in a fund which pays an income on a monthly basis. A good option for this is the Invesco Monthly Income Plus fund, which is a strategic bond fund.

Managers Paul Causer, Paul Read and Ciaran Mallon can use the full flexibility of the mandate to invest where they wish with the macroeconomic environment often driving the managers’ positioning.

In addition to investing across the fixed income market, the fund can also invest up to 20% in equities which is managed by Ciaran. The fund has returned 18% to investors over the last five years and yields 5.67%.

Darius McDermott is managing director of Fundcalibre

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