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Atalanta Sosnoff: 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 $3.8 billion in value as of Sept. 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 Twenty-First Century Fox and Texas Instruments. Other new holdings of interest include mortgage insurers MGIC Investment (NYSE: MTG  ) and Radian Group. MGIC and Radian are seeing their fortunes improve as the housing market recovers, but they also face more competition. MGIC's last quarterly earnings report was good, but the company has been diluting shareholders' stakes and faces rising interest rates while operating in an industry with a bit of a murky future.

Among holdings in which Atalanta Sosnoff increased its stake was Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) . In August, the company has agreed to pay $47 million to settle allegations tied to international corruption. The world's largest casino operator (by revenue) has been growing briskly in Asia, with its last quarter featuring revenue up 26% over year-ago levels and net income up 42%. Las Vegas Sands is tackling its debt and rewarding shareholders with dividends and stock buybacks.

Atalanta Sosnoff reduced its stake in lots of companies, including Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD  ) and American Tower (NYSE: AMT  ) . Gilead Sciences looks like it might be first to market with its all-oral hepatitis C treatment. Sofosbuvir has delivered strong results as it moves toward approval. Gilead is also well known for its success with HIV drugs and is tackling non-Hodgkins lymphoma, among other things. Its stock has averaged 27% annual growth over the past 20 years, leading some to wonder whether it's time to sell.

Wireless communications facilitator American Tower has been growing in part by acquisition, recently snapping up MIP Tower Holdings for $4.8 billion while lining up financing in order to help lower its debt burden. The industry is consolidating, with some seeing AMT as "the safe choice" within it, with fat margins and solid free cash flow. Bulls sense great opportunity and expect growing demand for the company's towers. Recently reclassified as a real estate investment trust (REIT), its stock yields 1.5%.

Finally, Atalanta Sosnoff's biggest closed positions included News Corp. and Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) . Qualcomm is a top player in the smartphone world, supplying iDevices and Android devices alike with its chips. The company's third-quarter earnings featured revenue and earnings each up more than 30%, with management upping projections. Bulls like its expansion into health care and telemedicine, while bears worry about competition from Intel, among others. Bank of America recently downgraded Qualcomm from buy to neutral, expecting a slowdown in smartphone growth. Qualcomm hiked its dividend by 40%, earlier this year, and its yield is now at 2.1%. Its dividend has been growing by more than 20% annually in recent years.

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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