Who would win in a battle of Batman vs Neil Woodford?

ROYAL Investitures

Who would win in a battle of Batman versus Superman? We've all heard the argument a million times - and now we've even seen the film. So how about a new one: who would win in a battle of Batman versus Neil Woodford (CBE)?

Looking good for Batman

Clearly Batman has much of the firepower: he has a much cooler costume, all the best gadgets, and the Batmobile. Whatever else you can say about Neil Woodford - his car isn't half as impressive.

From an investing perspective, Batman's not too shabby either. According to GoCompare, a Number 2 issue of the Batman comic fetched $27,000 in 2008, $38,000 in 2012 and $45,000 in 2016. It means that in the past eight years it has gained two thirds in value and over the past four years it has gained a fifth.

Meanwhile, while fetching a lower price, number 12 has seen even more impressive growth. A copy sold for $75 in 2012, and another sold for $800 in 2016 - an astonishing 966% rise in four years.

For the record, Superman is no slouch either. Action Comics number seven had a copy sell for £165,000 in 2012, and another for $315,000 in 2016. That's an increase of more than 90% in just four years.

Neil Woodford, meanwhile, is one of the most respected fund managers in the UK - and considered one of the finest equity income managers of all time. According to Trustnet, investing in his funds would have given you a total return over the past three years of 26.3%, the past five years of 54.1% and the past ten years of 109.2%.

On this basis, depending when you invested, and which issue you bought, Batman could well have kicked Neil Woodford's behind - as could Superman.

So does Batman win?

The other consideration in this battle, however, is risk. Comics have performed well over the past few years, but even during this time there are a few very rare comics that have dropped in value - including USA Comics issue 1 and New York's World Fair. Others have risen in single digits, and other very rare ones (like the Batman issue 12) have gone through the roof.

There are never any guarantees that you'll be able to pick the winners. Neither are there any guarantees that just because they have done well in the past few years, they will continue to do so in future.

Shares can be very similar, as over the same short period you can see the price of some shares soar and others plunge. Similarly, past performance is no guide to the future.

The difference is that someone like Neil Woodford mitigates the risk. He buys a selection of shares - all of which he believes will deliver strong growth, but which spreads the risk. He also buys income-producing shares, so that even when prices are falling, the dividends will offset some of the losses.

The problem with rare comics is that because they cost thousands of pounds - or even tens of thousands of pounds - you can't buy enough to spread your risk far enough - unless you're Bruce Wayne.

So while Batman and Superman may well trounce Neil Woodford in the short term, there's a decent chance he will catch them napping further down the track and tie their shoelaces together.

The world's most successful investors
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Who would win in a battle of Batman vs Neil Woodford?

Soros is one of the world’s most famous speculators - who sees the market as something to place highly leveraged bets on rather than invest in.

He cemented his reputation by shorting the pound on Black Wednesday in 1992, and making $1 billion from the collapse of the British currency and the near-collapse of the Bank of England.

He is another noted philanthropist, giving primarily to human rights, public health and education charities.

Slater was another highly controversial investor, known for corporate raids on public companies, and subsequent asset stripping to realise quick value for shareholders.

He also invented the phrase ‘The Zulu Principle’ to describe the importance of being a specialist when you are investing, so you can concentrate your research efforts and know more than the rest of the market about something specific.

Woodford (CBE) gained his reputation at the helm of the Invesco Perpetual Income and High Income funds, by offering relative stability and reliability in even the toughest markets.

His trademark was to make bold decisions about the companies he wanted to be invested in, and then stick with them - no matter how unfashionable his decisions were.

It led him to buy tobacco stocks in the 1990s (because he felt that concerns about the legal threats to the firms were overplayed) and avoid technology in the dotcom bubble.

Woodford currently runs Woodford Investment Management.


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