Here's What This 901% Gainer Has Been Buying

You can get some good ideas by following the big investors.

May 13, 2014 at 5:39PM

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 respected investing company Royce & Associates, founded in 1972 by Chuck Royce, who is known as a small-cap guru. The company's flagship fund is its Pennsylvania Mutual (PENNX), which has averaged close to 14.5% annually over the past 40 years. That's darn impressive. Per the folks at gurufocus.com, its Premier Fund (RYPRX) has grown by 901% over the past 20 years, versus 483% for the S&P 500. Royce's approach is one of long-term value investing.

The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $33.9 billion in value as of March 31, 2014.

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

New holdings include InterMune Inc (NASDAQ:ITMN) and Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC). InterMune is a biotech company specializing in pulmonology and orphan fibrotic diseases that has more than tripled over the past year. Its recently reported quarter featured widening losses, but those losses were still smaller than had been expected, in part due to strong sales of its idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis treatment Esbriet. Those sales were almost three times last year's levels. The drug has been approved in Europe, and an application has been filed in the U.S. Meanwhile, some are speculating the InterMune might get bought out.

Symantec Corporation is a technology stock with an appealing dividend yield of 2.9%. Its stock price is also appealing, with a forward P/E near 11. But is the company doing well? It's actually facing some challenges, as suggested by the fact that it rather abruptly dismissed its CEO in March. Critics charge that its growth rate is too sluggish, that it has been slow to capitalize on mobile technology, that its focus is on a weak PC market, and that it faces growing competition. Its last quarter featured a dip in revenue over year-ago levels, though earnings were above expectations due to cost cutting. Bulls point to strong cash flow, a low price, and lots of potential. Management has also noted rising security demand.

Among holdings in which Royce & Associates increased its stake was RF Micro Devices (NASDAQ:RFMD), which specializes in high-performance radio-frequency technology. The company is merging with TriQuint Semiconductor. Both are suppliers for mobile devices, with TriQuint a major supplier for Apple and RF Micro Devices focusing more on Samsung. TriQuint's gross margin has been surging, and it's upping its projections. RF Micro Devices offers breadth of operations and also geographic diversification, with its low-cost products likely to sell well in emerging markets.

Royce & Associates reduced its stake in lots of companies, including Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ARIA) and CalAmp Corp. (NASDAQ:CAMP). Ariad Pharmaceuticals is known these days for its leukemia drug Iclusig. The company's first-quarter earnings report featured revenue surging 82% over year-ago levels, while Iclusig sales jumped 25%. Its losses narrowed, topping expectations. Things are not perfect with Ariad, though, due to some safety concerns about Iclusig and concerns about its limited pipeline. It wouldn't be surprising to see the company acquired.

CalAmp Corp. is a wireless communications specialist, and an early player in the Internet of Things arena with its offerings that help machines communicate with each other. Its revenue has been growing by double digits annually over the past few years, and its growth rate has been accelerating as well. Earnings haven't grown steadily, though, and there is some concern about competition. While CalAmp has a lot of potential, its future is far from clear, and it's a volatile stock.

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

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