Here's What This $9 Billion Contrarian Has Been Buying

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 Tocqueville Asset Management, a portfolio manager with a contrarian bent, believing that "the best investment results over time are achieved outside the mainstream consensus" and seeking "undervalued companies that possess long-term earnings power."

The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $8.8 billion in value as of March 31, 2013.

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

The biggest new holdings are The Finish Line and Aeropostale. Other new holdings of interest include biotech company Exelixis (NASDAQ: EXEL  ) , which received FDA approval last year for its thyroid cancer drug, Cometriq. The drug may also get approved to treat prostate cancer, and the company is looking at treating as many as nine different cancers with it. On the other hand, Cometriq is expensive, and the company's debt has been growing, along with its share count.

Among holdings in which Tocqueville increased its stake were Molycorp (NYSE: MCP  ) and Halcon Resources (NYSE: HK  ) . Molycorp has been struggling in a tough environment and recently worried investors with a surprisingly large share offering and debt issuance. (Some worry about further capital needs, too, and worry about it running out of money before the market for its rare-earth minerals turns around.) Still, for those who can accept considerable risk and volatility, there's some promise in Molycorp, in part because of its acquisition of Neo Materials Technologies and its potential to become a powerful low-cost producer.

Oil and gas company Halcon, operating in the promising Bakken region (as well as in the Woodbine and Utica regions), is expected to grow by 30% annually over the coming years. It recently reported 2012 net daily production 128% higher than year-ago levels and proven reserves up 417%. Halcon was recently one of my colleague Joel South's top two energy holdings.

Tocqueville reduced its stake in lots of investments, such as the iShares S&P U.S. Preferred Stock ETF (NYSEMKT: PFF  ) . As indicated, the ETF focuses on preferred stock, which tends to not appreciate in value as rapidly as common stock, but which also tends to pay heftier dividends and offer more stability. Note that this collection of preferred stock has a lot of exposure to the financial industry, too.

Finally, Tocqueville's biggest closed positions included Gentex and Ferro. Other closed positions of interest include Fusion-io (NYSE: FIO  ) , an enterprise storage company focused on technologies such as flash memory and solid-state drives. It already serves some rather major customers, such as Apple, but much of its revenue comes from just a few  key clients. The company recently posted strong earnings and an upbeat outlook, sending its shares up by double digits. Bulls also like its purchase of NexGen Storage, but bears worry about competitors looming .

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

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