Every quarter, many money managers have to disclose what they've bought and sold via "13F" filings. Their latest moves can shine a bright light on smart stock picks.
Today, let's look at Fisher Asset Management, founded in 1979 by Ken Fisher. You may know Fisher by his longtime column in Forbes magazine, where he's also No. 263 in the magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.7 billion. You may know his father, as well: Phil Fisher wrote the seminal investing text, Common Stocks, Uncommon Profits.
The reportable stock portfolio of Fisher's company totaled a whopping $33.8 billion in value as of June 30, 2012. It manages money for more than 100 large institutions, and its strategy involves macroeconomic research and fundamental analysis.
So what does Fisher's latest quarterly 13F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:
New holdings include Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS ) , which has seen its stock fall from around $60 a few months ago to near $40 recently. That makes it seem like a bargain to some, but others are fretting over its recent earnings report that suggests its properties in Macau might be taking business from each other. With business sluggish in Las Vegas itself, high hopes have been pinned on locations such as Macau and Singapore, but some of that is slowing, too.
Among holdings in which Fisher Asset Management increased its stake were McDonald's and Diamond Foods (Nasdaq: DMND ) , the first in a big way, the second in a smaller way. McDonald's has been suffering some due in part to a strong dollar weakening its substantial international revenue, as well as from rising food prices. Diamond Foods, with its shares having plunged by about 75% over the past year, has been plagued by an accounting scandal and has seen big executive turnover. While some see it as a bargain now, others are waiting for it to restate past financial reports.
Fisher Asset Management reduced its stake in lots of companies, including Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF ) and JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU ) . Cliffs, which recently hit a 52-week low, is feeling the pain of a weak coal and steel industry. Bulls see long-term promise, though, especially once the auto industry is firing on all cylinders again. China's continuing growth is another catalyst. Telecom equipment maker JDS Uniphase has also been socked by the world's sluggish economy, but with smartphones and tablets in an explosive growth mode, infrastructure building and upgrades can't be put off too long.
Finally, Fisher Asset Management unloaded several companies, such as Crane (NYSE: CR ) , a maker of engineered industrial products. In its recently reported second quarter, revenue rose 4%, but income from continuing operations dropped 14%, with margins shrinking, as well. In a sign of confidence, though, the company hiked its dividend by 8%.
We should never blindly copy any investor's moves, no matter how talented the investor. But, it can be useful to keep an eye on what smart folks are doing, and 13-F forms can be great places to find intriguing candidates for our portfolios.
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