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Neil Woodford Buys Wm. Morrison Supermarkets

Harvey Jones
March 11, 2013

LONDON -- It's time to go shopping for shares again, but where to start? There are loads of great stocks to choose from, and I've got my wallet out. So should I buy WM. Morrison Supermarkets (LSE: MRW)?

Supermarket purchase
When dividend maestro Neil Woodford takes a major position in a FTSE 100 stock, it is worth taking notice. He has just bought a fat slice of WM. Morrison Supermarkets, making him the company's largest investor at 7.69% (up from 5.33%). So what's so special about Morrisons? And should I buy it as well?

Woodford is picking and choosing his supermarkets carefully these days. Last year, he sold out of the U.K.'s biggest supermarket chain Tesco (LSE: TSCO) (NASDAQOTH: TSCDY), complaining that it wasn't the defensive stock he had hoped. But is Morrisons? Is any U.K. retailer defensive in these troubled times? Life is tough for U.K. grocery chains as their customers' wages fall behind inflation, but it has been particularly tough for Morrisons, which has come off worse in a dogfight with discount chains Aldi and Lidl. Its most recent trading update, published in January, showed a 2.5% drop in like-for-like sales. That was enough for fund manager BlackRock, which ditched more than half its 10% stake. Enter Woodford.

Horses for courses
It has been a dismal five years for Morris