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By Tom Winnifrith | Saturday 22 December 2018
‘Twas the night before Christmas and the man who liked to be known as Britain’s Buffett paced up and down his bedroom, deep in thought. Attending the local carol service at the Church nearest his Country Estate, Neil Woodford felt that he had so much in common with the wise men but like the Shepherds he was this evening of a troubled mind.
For starters there was the little matter of the Woodford Investment Management annual report which needed to be slipped out before New Year’s Day at a time when nobody would notice. The problem was that one again, Neil himself had trousered huge dividends as WIM reported vast profits while funds he managed had tanked in value destroying the pensions of many. Of course it was all down to the market, thought Neil, I will be vindicated soon but in the words of his PR himbo “even those suckers at the Mail on Sunday won’t buy this one boss.”
Then there was the little matter of redemptions and the crashing value of his funds which were out of cash and starting to drown in debt. But damn it thought the man who liked the Mail on Sunday to call him Britain’s Buffett once a fortnight “I know better than the market and sooner or later everyone will wake up to my genius.” Defiantly he strode towards his bed and lay on an Eve Mattress which was so disruptive that it was going to take the world by storm. At some point.
Gulping down a glass of Halosource purified water, which tasted really disruptive and was going to revolutionise the world of water, Woodford lay back and tried to get to sleep. But his mind was indeed troubled and, try as he could, he just could not get to sleep. He tried counting revolutionary pallets from RM2 which were set to disrupt the world of pallets. But in the end RM2 ran out of money, sorry Woodford ran out of pallets to count. But just at that moment the windows blew open….
Woodford sat up like a bolt. Bloody hell that was not meant to happen, my windows were fitted by Capita and it said they were as safe as their dividends. None the less he could feel the cold night air, and in swept a ghostly figure wearing a blue shirt that looked a bit like a maternity smock, a West Ham puffer jacket and smelling strongly of ouzo. The figure, who seemed vaguely familiar, beckoned and Woodford found himself walking towards the window, at which point the apparition grabbed him by the wrist and soon the two men were flying through the air.
Woodford was conscious of the overpowering smell of ouzo and tried to raise the matter. The figure pulled out a share price chart of Kier, cackled something about how it was ouzo o’clock and pushed on through the night sky, taking a swig from his hip flask as he did.
Soon Woodford found himself staring down on what looked to be his offices on the day he launched his flagship Equity Income Fund. A man wearing a Viking helmet was running through a powerpoint showing how a fortune could be made just by changing the laws of physics “you are Neil Woodford you can do anything” he said, and to his horror Neil saw himself write out a cheque for 30 million Euro as the Norwegian walked out laughing loudly.
It was all go at the office. That little chap from Hargreaves Lansdown came in to record a video with Britain’s Buffett. “Tell me how you do due diligence?” He asked. Neil saw himself smile and state that he personally investigated every aspect of every company he invested in. Neil felt a bit uncomfortable about that answer, but watched on as the Hargreaves chappy asked if he thought that the comparison was Buffett was a bit unfair on Neil, after all Warren was yesterday’s man was he not?
On the wall there was a framed front page of the Mail on Sunday “Fill your boots with Woodford, the man is a genius you cannot lose.” Woodford smiled. Good old Jeff Presstrip. Did I remember to send my favourite old poodle a case of champagne this year he wondered?
The ghostly figure tapped his smart phone and showed Woodford today’s NAV. The smile disappeared from Woodford’s face as he remembered that he had yet to open today’s redemptions report. Soon Woodford was back in the air and before he knew it he was standing in his bedroom as the ghostly figure said “I am the ghost of Christmas past when the world was at your feet, do you not consider that pride got the better of you and…?”
At this point Woodford interjected. “I am Neil Woodford who, as the Mail on Sunday said for the 18th time this year today, may be having a bad spell but am always right, know better than the market and am a total genius now bugger off.” Woodford pushed the figure out of the window and strode back to his bed in a masterly fashion, for he knew that he was a true master of the universe…
To be continued.
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