Important information - the value of investments and the income from them, can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest.

A look at the most actively traded stocks by customers on the Fidelity Personal Investing website in May, as usual throws up some very familiar names, as well as one that makes its first appearance in the top five for some time.

Most actively traded shares May 2023

  1. Legal & General
  2. Vodafone Group
  3. Lloyds Banking Group
  4. BP
  5. Rolls-Royce

Source: Fidelity Brokerage, 1-31 May 2023

Vodafone, which makes it into the second spot, has been in the headlines after comments from its new chief executive had shades of Rolls-Royce’s new boss and his “burning platform” speech, about it. Maybe not as explicit, but arguably as brutal, Margherita Della Valle, who took over as chief executive of Vodafone last month, announced the biggest set of job cuts in the telecom group’s history. She told staff and shareholders that “speed and [the] decisiveness of the actions we take because of the position we’re in” is key.

Pledging to draw a bold line under its past and simplify the business, she said 11,000 jobs are to go over the next three years, reducing the headcount to 89,000. “Make no mistake, you will see the numbers turning from here,” she said.

She is right, speed is of the essence here. Foreign investors are gnawing away at Vodafone, while its share price languishes in bargain-basement territory. Former chief executive Nick Read stepped down at the end of last year after a hefty 40% fall in the group’s share price.

Over the past year more than a fifth of the company’s shares have been snapped up by overseas competitors. UAE telecoms and investment group e& has built up a 14.6% stake, prompting speculation over its intentions. For its part, e& has stated publicly that it wants to increase its stake to between 20% and 25%; which would give it a seat on the board. Last year, Vodafone rejected an offer from Iliad to purchase the Italian business for €11bn.

Ms Della Valle’s ambitions are bold but they’re not new. There have been a series of similar pledges over the years, which have failed to pull off the turnaround needed, thus far. One key market that needs tackling is Germany.

Vodafone has that its closely-watched adjusted free cash flow would probably be €3.3bn for the year to March 2024, less than the €3.6bn analysts had pencilled in, in no small part because of increased costs in Germany. Debt though has been slashed by nearly a fifth, to €3.4bn.

Meanwhile at fellow FTSE 100 constituent Rolls-Royce, its unflinching boss, Tufan Erginbilgic, has turned his attention to one of the company’s key divisions, describing it as having been “grossly mismanaged”. The subsidiary, which makes diesel and gas engines for ships and trains, generated £3.35bn or 26% of group underlying revenue in 2022. Mr Erginbilgic said that margins in 2022 had decreased even though revenues had risen, stating that costs had simply not been kept under control.

Important information - investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. Reference to specific securities should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell these securities and is included for the purposes of illustration only. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice.

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