4 shares the pros are buying and selling


Citywire AAA-rated asset allocator Iain McCombie has cut his exposure to discount airline giant Ryanair (RYA) as the company flies into another outbreak of labour relations turbulence.

McCombie reduced his exposure to the company from just over 4% of shares to 3.9% or 47.2 million worth £693 million at a share price of €16.61, down from a high of €19.38 last year.

The shares are primarily held in his Baillie Gifford Balanced fund, with a further stake held in the Baillie Gifford European run by his AAA-rated colleagues Stephen Paice and Moritz Sitte.

Ryanair was forced to cancel more than 700,000 bookings last year and suspend flights on a series of routes over a failure to manage staff holidays.

Pilots’ union Balpa reached a ‘historic’ deal with the company to recognise collective bargaining in January. Airline boss Michael O’Leary’s willingness to negotiate was questioned this month however, when he said he would rather face strikes than accept ‘laughable demands’ from staff.

Barclays this month lifted its target price from €17.50 to €18.30, rated buy.

Pets at Home

Citywire AAA-rated hedge fund star Thierry Lucas has ramped up his stake in out-of-town retail warehouse chain Pets at Home (PETS) as its shares tread water close to last year’s record lows.

Lucas increased his holding in the business from 1.6 million shares to more than 15 million or just over 3% worth £25.7 million at a share price of 171p, down from a 2015 high of 311p.

The shares are held across Lucas’ fund range at his hedge boutique Portland Capital, which he launched in 2012 and which last year increased client assets to above $1 billion (£714 million).

Enthusiasm about Pets at Home’s prospects lifted shares almost 30% in its first 18 months on the market, but buyer appetite was already flagging even before a warning on weak sales last year drove its shares 36% lower to an eventual bottom of 154p.

Former private equity owner KKR sold down its remaining 12.3% stake in the business at the end of January at a guide price of 170p.

RockRose Energy

Citywire A-rated fund manager Paul Mumford has taken a position in oil and gas production company RockRose Energy (RRE), following its readmission on to the London Stock Exchange Mumford has bought a 7.98% stake in the company, which equates to 1.2 million shares worth £4 million at a share price of 330p. The shares are held in his TM Cavendish AIM fund.

RockRose Energy had an eventful year in 2017. Its shares only resumed trading on 19 February, following a suspension.

The suspension took place after the reverse takeover of Maersk Oil North Sea UK at the end of 2016. Since then, the company has completed a number of acquisitions including Egerton Energy Ventures, Sojitz Energy Project and Idemitsu Petroleum UK, building up its portfolio of North Sea deposits.

In an update last month prior to the relisting, executive chairman Andrew Austin said: ‘RockRose, in line with its corporate strategy, is actively involved in reviewing several other potential transactions, in addition to investment in organic growth opportunities that exist within the asset portfolio that has been acquired.’

Tufton Oceanic Assets

Citywire AA-rated multi-asset specialist Paul Flood has upped his stake in recently launched shipping investor Tufton Oceanic Assets, as the company said it had purchased and chartered its first vessels.

Flood upped his holding in the company from 2.2 million shares to 4.7 million or 5.2% worth $4.9 million (£3.5 million) at a share price of US$1.05, up from December’s $1 offer price.

The shares are held in his £154 million Newton Multi Asset Diversified and £124 million Multi Asset Income funds.

Tufton, which owns and leases ships and offshore energy infrastructure, raised $91 million at the end of 2017 to invest in a portfolio of second hand freighters.

The business said this week it had bought and rented its first two containerships at its target yield of an initial 5%, and longer term 7%.

A huge volume of shipping oversupply following the credit crunch and slow trade growth in the decade since have meant the sector has been starved of capital in recent years, the fund said.