Henderson tech stars sell out of social media plays

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Henderson’s star tech investors Ian Warmerdam and Stuart O’Gorman have sold out of key positions in social media stocks to refocus on online retailers.

In an investor call, Euro Stars A-rated manager Warmerdam (pictured) said the pair had opted to take profits on positions in Facebook and LinkedIn following a strong period of performance.

This, he said, will see the pair focus the $2.33 billion Henderson HF Global Technology fund on the internet retail market, which he said was still underpenetrated despite global brand names such as Amazon.

Discussing positive contributors and changes, Warmerdam said: ‘We had some good stock-picking, particularly within social media. We made timely investments into both Facebook and LinkedIn when they were at lower valuation levels.'

‘With Facebook we didn’t take any substantial position around the IPO. We built the position much later when the stock was much more attractively valued and then we sold the shares at a quite significant profit once they reached our price target.’

‘Likewise, with LinkedIn, we had a very strong run and the stock now looks expensive to us and we have sold out of that name but only after it generated strong performance for the fund.’

Online retailers

On eCommerce, Warmerdam said he expects this to play a key role in the fund in the future. This is despite a wide-held belief among investors that the theme of online retailers is too well known, he said.

‘I get a lot of push back in eCommerce and a lot of people tell me that is yesterday’s story. They talk about Amazon and eBay, that is the early story of the 2000s and late 1990s, it has happened already.’

‘The truth is we’ve barely scratched the surface. Even in the US we are less than 5% penetrated, 95% of all retail sales are still offline. We see a very nice trend line in growth but we believe this can continue for many years to come.’

In order to take advantage of this, Warmerdam said, while retail sales will not move to 100%, they are invested in companies such as eBay, Open Table and Priceline to take advantage of this secular change.

The Henderson HF Global Technology A2 EUR fund returned 23.93% in three years to the end of April 2013. This compares to its Citywire benchmark, the FTSE AW/Technology TR, which rose 24.43% over the same period.