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Here's What This $4 Billion Investment Firm 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 Atalanta Sosnoff, which was founded in 1981 and is based in New York City. Its investment style is oriented toward growth stocks, as its managers seek earnings growth and multiple expansion. The firm's large-cap equity strategy has outperformed the S&P 500 handily since its inception, growing 10.2-fold, vs. 7.3-fold for the S&P 500. In 2010, U.S. investment bank Evercore Partners bought a 49% stake in Atalanta Sosnoff.

The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $4.1 billion in value as of June 30, 2013.

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

The biggest new holdings are Canadian Pacific Railway and Allstate. Other new holdings of interest include Pinnacle Foods (NYSE: PF  ) and Eaton (NYSE: ETN  ) . Pinnacle Foods debuted via an IPO earlier this year, and soon after, initiated a dividend, which yields about 2.8%. Its brands include Birds Eye, Aunt Jemima, Hungry-Man, Van de Kamp's, Armour, Lender's, Mrs. Paul's, Vlasic, Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth, and Duncan Hines, among others. With the company carrying significant debt, it's reasonable that some worry about its interest in acquiring Unilever's Wish-Bone salad dressing brand and Del Monte Foods' canned foods.

Power management company Eaton has been shifting its focus from international projects to U.S.-based ones. Argus Research recently recommended the stock, but my colleague Rich Smith would steer clear, due to Eaton's debt and valuation. The stock has surged more than 70% over the past year, and yields about 2.5%. Its acquisition of Cooper Industries has it competing with some formidable opponents in energy infrastructure, and also offers it some tax advantages, via Ireland. Risks that it faces include disruption by upstarts.

Among holdings in which Atalanta Sosnoff increased its stake were Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI  ) and Las Vegas Sands. Atalanta Sosnoff reduced its stake in lots of companies, including EMC and Philip Morris International. Pitney-Bowes has been attracting income-seekers with a double-digit dividend yield, but it recently slashed that in half. Its remaining 5.3% yield is nothing to scoff at, but investors should assess the company's business carefully. Its legendary postage-meter business has not been thriving amid proliferating digital communications. To its credit, Pitney-Bowes has been developing other less-threatened (and higher-margin) businesses, such as providing geocoding software. Still, its revenue and earnings have been shrinking in recent years, and it does carry considerable debt. The stock is heavily shorted, too.

Finally, Atalanta Sosnoff's biggest closed positions included ExxonMobil and BlackRock. Other closed positions of interest include Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI  ) and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX  ) . Sirius is up about 84% over the past year, and trading near a five-year high. The company boasts more than 25 million subscribers, and revenue and earnings have been growing at double-digit rates. Growing auto sales bode well for Sirius, as its radios are embedded in many vehicles. Meanwhile, Sirius faces competition from Pandora, but Pandora is dealing with its own problems, recently posting some shrinking numbers.

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, meanwhile, has been whacked by falling copper and gold prices. The world's largest publicly traded copper producer has also been affected by slowing growth in China, and labor strikes haven't helped, either. One bright spot is that the company diversified its operations considerably when it bought a pair of oil and gas producers. How well it integrates all its businesses remains to be seen, though. Unloved by many right now, the stock seems rather undervalued to some. Patient investors can collect a 4.4% dividend yield.

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

If you're looking for ideas from smart investors, here's one more idea: The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for this year. You can find out which under-the-radar stock it is in the special free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2013." Just click here to access the report.

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