Woodford Patient Capital Trust PLC (LON:WPCT), run by star fund manager Neil Woodford, shrugged off global market declines to deliver a 6.9% rise in net assets for 2018.
The trust ended the year with net assets of £807,200, compared to £755,295 in 2017.
Net asset value (NAV) per share rose to 97.61p from 91.33p.
Autolos the star performer
The higher returns came despite widespread equity market declines in 2018, particularly in the latter part of the year, amid worries about trade tensions between the US and China, a slowdown in global economic growth and Brexit uncertainty.
Clinical-stage biotechnology firm Autolus Therapeutics (NASDAQ:AUTL) had the biggest portfolio weight after a successful start to US trading last June.
Autolus, which develops T-cell therapies for the treatment of cancer, completed its initial public offering at the top end of the guided price range and at a 73% premium to the company’s funding round in September 2017.
At the end of the year, the company’s shares were 90% higher than the US$17 per share price. Woodford has a 10.2% stake in the business.
Some of Woodford’s unquoted holdings also contributed to the increase in NAV, including UK-based artificial intelligence firm Beneveolent AI, British gene analysis Oxford Nanopore and Welsh proton therapy facilities developer Proton Partners International.
Woodford said US energy technology firm Industrial Heat A2 saw a “meaningful valuation uplift” in September after raising capital to fund the eventual commercialisation of products under development.
In 2016, the trust had to write down its investment in Industrial Heat following some disappointing initial developments but since then, progress has been made with technologies. Woodford has a 10% holding in the company.
Neil Woodford advises portfolio companies to hold off on stock market listings
Neil Woodford said several of the trust's more mature companies in the portfolio are at a stage where a stock market listing would "appear appropriate" but the group has encouraged them to remain private for "as long as possible".
"We are only comfortable exposing these businesses to the slings and arrows of a stock market listing if we are confident that it can be done in a manner that will not compromise their ability to fulfil the potential that we have always seen in them," he said.
On Wednesday, Oxford Nanopore told investors it plans a stock market listing within 12 months following its recent commercial and technical progress.
Berenberg analysts said the firm could reach a valuation of £4.5bn to £7bn in the medium term.