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Super-investor Ken Fisher manages a multibillion-dollar fund that has beaten the pants off the stock market for nearly two decades. Every quarter, money managers like Fisher give us a peek into their stock maneuvers via their required SEC 13F filings. Many investors use this information to gain insight into what stocks the money pros are buying and selling.
Let's take a closer look at three investments Fisher completely sold out of this past quarter.
Kicked to the curb
Brinker International (NYSE: EAT ) owns, operates, and franchises Chili's Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant brands. Results for the fiscal third quarter ended March 27 included a 20% systemwide increase in earnings per share. Comparable restaurant sales for Chili's restaurants decreased 1.1%, while Maggiano's comp sales increased 0.4% and represented the chain's 13th consecutive quarterly increase. Currently trading near its 52-week high, Brinker has returned roughly 25% to shareholders year to date and 178% during the past three years. It's likely that Fisher sold his position because of unsustainable momentum in what Brinker CEO Wyman Roberts describes as "a tough industry sales environment" and a general feeling that the stock is fully valued.
Fisher also detached his position in industrial goods manufacturer Snap-on (NYSE: SNA ) . Earlier this week, the company unveiled that it achieved year-over-year sales and operating income increases for the quarter. The Wisconsin-based company announced in May that it'd acquire auto repair vehicle lift maker Challenger Lifts. Snap-on financed the $38 million deal entirely with cash, considered a good move since taking on any more debt would worsen its debt-to-equity ratio, which already stands at roughly twice the industry average. Trading near its all-time high, Snap-on is up nearly 52% during the past two years and 16% year to date. Fisher probably thought it was a good time to get out when he offloaded his shares last quarter.
Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN ) operates roughly 248 stores in 33 states and carries brands targeting wealthy customers, resulting in high margins. Shares of the Seattle-based company fell after first-quarter results were announced in mid-May, as the high-end retailer missed its earnings estimate, mostly because of costs associated with Rack, its growing off-price division. Same-store sales, a key retail metric that excludes recently opened outlets to reflect more accurate overall sales traffic, increased 2.7% for the quarter, fueled by demand for women's apparel. Yet Fisher still thought stock came up short and trimmed his entire position.
I don't own any of the stocks that Fisher sold. But while I agree with his decision to sell Brinker and Snap-on, I'm not so sure about Nordstrom. As a patient, long-term investor, I think the company has fared well in its comeback since the 2008-2009 recession and still holds potential in the specialty retail market.
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