Here's How the Guy Who Called Enron Has Been Investing

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 Kynikos Associates, founded in 1985 by investing giant Jim Chanos. Chanos is known for being an early spotter of trouble at Enron, betting against it, and profiting while others got crushed.

The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $269 million in value as of June 30, 2012.

Interesting developments
So what does Kynikos Associates' latest quarterly 13F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details.

New holdings include Chicago Bridge & Iron (NYSE: CBI  ) , which, among other activities, provides services to the energy and natural resources sectors, working on projects related to water, hydrocarbon, and nuclear industries. The company is spending some $3 billion to buy Shaw Group. That worries some, due to the debt the company is taking on for it, as many in this industry try to keep debt obligations low, since cyclicality can render cash flow very lumpy. Some also don't like Shaw's involvement in nuclear energy. A recent Barron's piece was more optimistic, saying the deal "will help CB&I reduce its dependency on the natural-gas boom of the past several years, and leave it as one of the biggest, most diversified energy-infrastructure companies in the world."

Among holdings in which Kynikos increased its stake were Deere (NYSE: DE  ) , Rackspace Hosting (NYSE: RAX  ) , and VMware (NYSE: VMW  ) .

Deere has been growing its revenue and earnings at an accelerating pace over the past few years. In its most recent quarter, earnings per share advanced by 23%. Boding well for it is its heavy exposure to global economies, including many fast-growing emerging markets. The company also sports a dividend yield near 2.2%, which it has been upping by an average of 13.9% annually over the past five years. Those worried about drought-related problems can rest easy knowing that farmers are expected to keep investing in necessary equipment, thanks in part to crop insurance and high commodity prices.

Rackspace is a cloud-computing company offering enterprise hosting services. It's growing its revenue and earnings at an accelerating rate, but it also faces competition from companies such as Amazon, which has recently taken steps to beef up its customer service to compete with Rackspace's famous "fanatical" service. It has been performing well lately, becoming more efficient and getting involved in the promising "big data" field.

Fellow cloud-computing company VMWare has been profiting from growing demand for storage in the sky. VMWare is selling cloud software and applications that run on it, and its service sales have been growing briskly. Bulls like its $1.3 billion acquisition of software-based networking expert Nicira, and with its revenue growing much faster than its stock price lately, some see it as attractively priced, too.

Kynikos completely sold out of a few stocks, such as gaming giant Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) . Bulls see strength in its Call of Duty and World of Warcraft lines, as well as Diablo III and Skylanders. They also see potential in direct-to-consumer digital downloads, which can boost profits. Bears worry about subscriber shrinkage for World of Warcraft.

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. 13-F forms can be great places to find intriguing candidates for our portfolios.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Amazon.com and Activision Blizzard, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and VMware. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Rackspace Hosting, Amazon.com, VMware, and Activision Blizzard, as well as creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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