Star fund manager Neil Woodford has admitted investors may be disappointed with the performance of his Woodford Patient Capital investment trust, which listed in April last year. The trust has lost 11% from its net asset value (NAV) in the six months to June.
Disappointing investments included biopharmaceutical company Circassia (which is 21% owned by the trust), where late-stage trials of a cat-allergy vaccine showed the drug produced no better results than a placebo.
The fund also suffered from a wider weakening in investor sentiment towards biotechnology stocks, partly brought on by Hillary Clinton's promise to crack down on drug pricing. In June, the Nasdaq Biotechnology index had fallen roughly 40% from its July 2015 peak, though it has since recovered some of those losses.
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Woodford, a long-time favourite with retail investors, emphasises that it is "early days" for a strategy that is "looking to exploit very long-term opportunities". But it's clear that some of the early enthusiasm for his new venture, which specialises in riskier, early-stage companies, has died down.
The fund was initially highly popular with investors and quickly began trading at a premium to NAV (meaning that investors were willing to pay more than the book value of its assets because they believed that Woodford's investment decisions would add greater value). It is currently trading at a 3.2% discount to NAV.
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