Patient Capital Trust update, June 2017

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Mitchell Fraser-Jones 14 July 2017 Est. reading: 3 min read

Home > Words > Insights > Patient Capital Trust update, June 2017

The Woodford Patient Capital Trust delivered a positive return in June, with the bulk of positive contributions coming from the trust’s biotechnology holdings.

Prothena and Theravance Biopharma both saw their shares climb higher on renewed appetite for US biotech stocks. This is of course a sector that has been subject to some sharp swings in sentiment over the last couple of years and, although it is difficult to fathom exactly what has driven the recent pick-up in share prices, it has been helpful to short-term performance. The market has exhibited a fickle tendency towards the sector as a whole, so it is worth reminding investors that our interest in the sector is focused on the specific and compelling attractions of individual biotechnology companies. Their return to form in recent weeks is pleasing but it is a drop in the ocean when compared to the long-term potential that they hold.

Meanwhile, UK biotech business Abzena also performed well. The company reported an encouraging set of full-year results, updating investors on the excellent overall progress it has made in building a services platform that can support significant future growth.

During the month, we also visited Proton Partners’ Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, South Wales. This was a great opportunity for us to get an update on the excellent progress Proton Partners is making in bringing proton beam therapy to the UK. Proton beam therapy is an innovative oncology therapy which uses protons (sub-atomic particles) to target and kill cancer cells with little or no damage to the surrounding tissue.

Proton Partners has successfully fired the first high energy proton beam using its first cyclotron – a proton beam therapy system which weighs 90 tonnes, has to be super-cooled to four degrees Kelvin (or -269 degrees Celsius!) and speeds up hydrogen atoms to two-thirds of the speed of light before firing a proton. This sounds (and looks) like a machine from a sci-fi movie or book – but it is very real. Proton Partners will also install cyclotrons across its other treatment centres which are currently under development across the UK. We are pleased with the company’s rapid progress to becoming a leading developer and provider of proton beam therapy and we expect much more to come from this highly innovative business in the years ahead.

On a less positive note, Benchmark performed poorly despite reporting an encouraging set of half-year results. The company is well-placed to benefit from the long-term growth of the aquaculture industry which is expected to become a much more important part of the global food market in the future. Its management expects to have two-to-three key products launched by the end of this year. However, its share price implies that some investors are frustrated at how long it is taking for the company to successfully execute its growth strategy. We however continue to believe the company can deliver attractive returns going forward as it takes advantage of its unique position in this growth industry.

In terms of portfolio activity, we participated in a couple of funding rounds – one for Drayson Technologies and one for Accelerated Digital Ventures. Drayson is progressing well but at a slower pace than we previously anticipated and therefore, the new funding round corresponded with a downward revaluation of the trust’s holding in the company. We continue to believe that Drayson’s technology has considerable commercial potential – as reflected in its strategic agreement with the University of Oxford and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which was announced earlier this week. This deal will enable Drayson to commercialise world-class digital health technology and reinforces our confidence in this innovative young business.

Meanwhile, the funding round for Accelerated Digital Ventures was a further tranche, in line with our initial investment agreement and did not result in a change in valuation. This additional capital will provide Accelerated Digital Ventures with the necessary financial capacity to continue to nurture and expand its investment portfolio of exciting early-stage digital businesses.

We also added to the trust’s positions in Halosource, Thin Film Electronics, Idex, Theravance Biopharma and Xeros. There were no disposals during the month.

We remain confident in the trust’s ability to deliver attractive long-term returns to shareholders.

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  1. Simon Franklin 14 Jul 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Patience: I have every confidence in Neal Woodford and his team.

  2. Neil,

    I am glad to see the share price is now above 100 pence, but I still have a little way to go, to break even. At least I deliberately held back from buying when there was a silly premium initially. Lets see where we are in 5 years time after the launch date to be able to make a proper judgement.

  3. Andrew Matheson 14 Jul 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Bravo!!!
    The fund is finally back up to its issue price.
    Well done!

  4. Hi Mitch, any comments on NWBO, things are starting to happen! Could have a really positive affect on the NAV of the Trust if it carries on. News of phase III must be close. Really glad to see the trust break past £1 again.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Neil gave a very full response earlier this year to a separate comment on Northwest Biotherapeutics which you can find here (https://woodfordfunds.com/words/insights/wpct-november-2016/#comment-9739) and as it stands, we have nothing further to add.

      Kind regards
      Mitch

  5. Hi Mitch, not strictly relevant to WPCT but am I right in thinking that Woodford has now sold its entire holding of Game Digital, apparently directly to Mike Ashley ? If so, did you not see any potential in GMD as a recovery play at least ? Thanks.

    1. Hi Robert, as you know it is our policy not to comment on intra-month trading activity (or indeed inactivity), so you’ll have to wait for our July roundup on this one.
      Kind regards
      Mitch

  6. I’m continuing to add regardless though I hope to pick up some WPCT for a little under a pound next week. Personally, I have discounted the lower bound of my targeted rate of returns for a little more than a decade since initial investment. For that reason, I’ve remained quite comfortable during the times of sub-NAV, sub-listing price performance over the past two years, though they are never a comfortable experience for any investor. I welcome stabilisation above £1 even if it will essentially up the investment cost!

  7. No mention of Purple Bricks when it is about 1/8th of the portfolio….?

    1. A few months ago a very wise man I respect greatly pointed out to me that WPCT is generally seen as higher risk investment so you should be a little careful not to be over exposed to it .He did make me reconsider the size of my investment and I’m now patting myself on the back for changing nothing!!!
      this fund will make us all a little wealthier for sure but I feel actually it is going to make us a lot wealthier .I attended the AGM and there was an air of confidence about the team I felt.
      We have been told all along about the bumps in the road and some have seemed fairly big bumps but here we are surly believing now that for every step back we take there is going to be three step forward .Well that’s how it feels to me anyway and by looking at the regular sizable top ups Blackrock seem to feel the same .
      Once again well done team and thanks again Mitch for another interesting update.
      I truly hope the NAV continues to accelerate over the rest of the month and that you feel you could gloat just a little in the next update
      Regards
      Neal
      PS
      I hope it doesn’t take off to fast as I’m still trying to top up myself

    2. Hi Mark,

      We’ve focused on Purplebricks several times already this year – hopefully you’ve seen that in the other monthly updates? The company continues to perform extremely well, both operationally and in share price terms.

      Kind regards
      Mitch

  8. Regarding the AGM, any videos or dialog available from this?

    Regards Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff,

      No, there’s no video recording or transcript available from the AGM. If you are a shareholder, though, you are of course very welcome to attend next year.

      Kind regards,
      Mitch

  9. I cant believe woodford invested further in Halosource given its drop from 20p to 1.5p over the last years surely its time to say enough is enough

    1. Just noticed Tempus has WPCT as a buy this morning which was nice to see and I agree with him as I,m certainly topping up when I can, But what an incredibly poorly written piece as his stats are slightly less than accurate PURP has doubled? ALM has halved ? and as for Halo !??? sorry folks but if you want some info on stock and the economy I suggest you keep reading Woodford.
      A balanced but accurate view is what we need and you get feedback to ?s and concerns here.

      Regards
      Neal

  10. I would have a rethink about Halosource. There are many companies with highly technical people trying to innovate in the water space and it is difficult for an outsider to evaluate the viability of these technologies. (I was an insider once upon a time in this space). Halosource doesn’t look like a winner to me. I appreciate that the fund had already sunk money into this but perhaps it would have been better to write that off rather than poor more money in.

    1. they seem to keep liking pumping good money after bad money

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