Here's What This $5 Billion Hedge Fund Has Been Buying

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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 Farallon Capital Management, founded by Thomas Steyer in 1986, and employing a bottom-up fundamental investing strategy.

The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $4.9 billion in value as of March 31.

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

The biggest new holdings are Virgin Media and Constellation Brands. Other new holdings of interest include Sunesis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SNSS  ) , which has many investors hopeful about the phase 3 trials of its leukemia drug vosaroxin, which could be a blockbuster.

Among holdings in which Farallon Capital Management increased its stake were Dynavax (NASDAQ: DVAX  ) and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX  ) . Dynavax shares fell sharply upon an FDA rejection of its hepatitis B vaccine Heplisav. It may still win more limited approval, but Dynavax now has more work to do, and it's burning cash while its revenue has been shrinking. Fortunately, it does seem to have have ample cash to keep it afloat for a few years. Meanwhile, Dynavax has a new CEO, and its latest earnings report featured a loss slightly bigger than expected.

The world's largest publicly traded copper producer, recently yielding 4%, has been hurt by falling copper and gold prices and slowing growth in China, as well as by labor strikes. Most recently, a deadly mine disaster in Indonesia has led to the closing of one of its big mines. The company has diversified its operations considerably, by buying a pair of oil and gas producers. These can serve it well, while its mining operations stutter.

Farallon Capital Management reduced its stake in lots of companies, including AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV  ) , recently split off from Abbott Labs and focusing on the pharmaceutical business, while Abbott focuses on medical, diagnostic, and nutritional products. Some worry about AbbVie's heavy debt or the impending patent expiration of its blockbuster drug Humira, which is on track to become the first drug to generate more than $10 billion in annual sales. Still, AbbVie has other drugs on the market, and more in its pipeline, tackling hepatitis C, among other conditions. (A hep C treatment just received FDA breakthrough designation.) It also sports a 3.7% dividend yield.

Finally, Farallon's biggest closed positions included Nexen and Check Point Software Technologies. Other closed positions of interest include PotashCorp (NYSE: POT  ) . Potash is a fertilizer giant, with a low-cost structure giving it healthy profit margins. It recently yielded a solid 3.3%, and the dividend has been raised 25% this year and some 700% over the past few years. There's a lot to like about the company, but its stock doesn't appear to be a screaming bargain these days.

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.

In the pharma business, great success comes with a caveat. AbbVie is a perfect example, as investors in the new company are left wondering what the future holds once the company's golden goose, Humira, is cooked. The Fool's brand-new premium report on the company answers the high-profile questions that AbbVie investors are asking. Simply click here now to claim your copy today.

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9/28/2016 4:00 PM
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