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Terry Smith spices up fund with first buy since Facebook

Terry Smith spices up fund with first buy since Facebook

Star manager Terry Smith has snapped up a stake in food seasonings maker McCormick & Co (MKC.N), the first new position for his £16.6 billion Fundsmith Equity fund since last year's Facebook (FB.O) buy.

A filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shows Smith had built up a stake representing 2.1% of the company by the end of December, worth around $338 million (£267 million) at yesterday's share price.

Fundsmith began building the stake in October, saying in its factsheet for that month it had had begun 'buying a new position for the fund, the name of which will be revealed when we have accumulated our desired weighting'.

The new buy has bolstered Fundsmith Equity's holdings in consumer staples, an area of the stock market with which Smith's focus on quality companies had become synonymous, but whose weighting in the fund has drifted lower in recent years.

Having represented more than 60% of the portfolio when the fund was launched in 2010, consumer staples stocks now account for just over a quarter of the fund.

Stocks from the sector have proved to be at the top of Smith's 'sell' list in recent years. Last month's sale of Colgate-Palmolive (CL.N) followed disposals of Dr Pepper Snapple, Nestlé (NESN.S), Imperial Brands (IMB), JM Smucker (SJM.N) and Procter & Gamble (PG.N) over the last three years.

Smith was buying into a strong rally in the shares, which raced from around $100 in early June to an all-time high of $155 in mid-December, but it's been downhill since.

A 12.6% fall on the day full-year results were announced in late January was the heaviest drop for the shares in 13 years, as quarterly profits missed expectations.

That is referenced in Fundsmith's latest factsheet, where the top five detractors include 'an as yet undisclosed new position'.

The quarterly filing to the SEC also details US holdings for Fundsmith's new Smithson (SSON) investment trust that had not previously been disclosed. They include AO Smith (AOS.N), which makes water heaters and boilers, payroll technology provider Paycom Software (PAYC.K) and index provider MSCI (MSCI.K).

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