Invesco’s Barnett on why he likes Big Oil and pharma

Invesco’s Barnett on why he likes Big Oil and pharma

Mark Barnett, who runs the £10.5bn Invesco Perpetual High Income fund , is finding value in oil companies and pharmaceutical businesses.

On the big oil companies, Mr Barnett said the key to the investment case for is the level of cost cutting they have achieved.

BP is the second largest investment in the Invesco Perpetual High Income fund, a 5.5 per cent holding worth approximately £575m.

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The fund manager said BP’s dividend is more sustainable now even at an oil price of around $60 (£45), than it was when oil was $110 (£83), as the company is now spending far less of the cash it generates on capital expenditure, leaving more cash for dividends.    

Clive Beagles, who jointly runs the £3.5bn JO Hambro UK Income fund is also a fan of BP shares, and holds the stock among his ten biggest investments.

Another fan of oil company shares is Simon Gergel, who runs the £681m Merchants Investment Trust. He said the companies have started to prove they can be profitable with oil prices at much lower levels than has historically been the case.  

He said the recent trading update from the company was very positive.

Both Mr Gergel and Mr Barnett are also keen on the pharmaceutical sector, though the Invesco Perpetual fund manager said the sector has been a “major disappointment” to him since 2015.

He acknowledged the sector will always be volatile to announcements about the progress of drug trials, but said the largest pharmaceutical companies tend to be sufficiently diversified as not to have to rely on any one drug.

Astra Zeneca is the 4th largest holding in the fund, a holding of 3.3 per cent, which equates to approximately £365m.

Its share price fell 15 per cent in a single day in July when it was announced that a drug it was trialing had delivered disappointing results.

Mr Barnett’s optimism for Astra Zeneca shares is shared by his former colleague and great rival Neil Woodford.

Mr Woodford, manager of the £10.2bn Woodford Equity Income fund, said he regards Astra Zeneca shares as one of the “most exciting opportunities” in his investment universe, due to what he thinks is the quality of the future products Astra Zeneca will bring to market.

Jonathan Davis, who runs Jonathan Davis Wealth Management in Hertford, said he believes the world economy to be in a global "depression", but that this has little to do with the performance of stock markets.

He said he gets "more interested daily" in oil companies, as he believes there is more upside from here. 

Both Mr Barnett and Mr Woodford are much more positive on the UK economy than is the market as a whole.

Mr Barnett has stood apart from many of his peers over the past year in being much more positive on the UK economy than is the market as a whole.