Here's What This $18 Billion Money Manager Has Been Buying

Might you also want to buy Vector Group or Skyworks Solutions?

May 15, 2014 at 5:21PM

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 Eagle Asset Management, the massive money management arm of Raymond James Financial. Tracing its history back to 1976, the company provides investment services via individual managed accounts as well as mutual funds.

The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $18.1 billion in value as of March 31, 2014.

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

The biggest new holdings are PTC and American Airlines Group, Inc. Other new holdings of interest include Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE:VGR) and Skyworks Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:SWKS). Cigarette (and real estate!) company Vector Group draws attention with its 7.6% dividend yield. Vector is America's fourth-largest tobacco seller, and its offerings include Zoom e-cigarettes. That's good news for those bullish on electronic cigarettes, but the Food and Drug Administration is aiming to regulate them, which might constrain the industry or perhaps actually help it. Vector specializes in discount smokes, which is a plus as consumers shift toward less expensive cigarettes. Its real-estate operations offer diversification, which is appealing to those worried about tobacco's future.

Skyworks is a semiconductor company supplying, among other things, chips that enable wireless connectivity. There's a lot to like about it, such as its sizable supplier relationships with customers including Apple and Samsung, as well as its growth potential as the smartphone and tablet markets grow, especially in regions such as China. It focuses on connecting lots of kinds of devices, and is poised to profit from the growing "Internet of Things." Skyworks Solutions sports a solid balance sheet, growing profit margins, and increasing free cash flow. Its last quarter featured revenue rising 13% and net income jumping by 25%. The stock is sporting a brand-new dividend, which recently yielded 1.1%.

Among holdings in which Eagle Asset Management increased its stake was Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CDNS). With a market capitalization near $4.5 billion, Cadence Design Systems specializes in design automation software and design intellectual property for semiconductors, among other things. In its first quarter, it topped expectations, with revenue rising 7% and earnings slipping. But its momentum seems to be slowing, and a cyclical downturn can slow things further. Last month, it announced the purchase of Jasper Design Automation for $170 million.

Eagle Asset Management reduced its stake in lots of companies, including Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IONS). Isis Pharmaceuticals is a specialist in orphan drugs has fallen in recent months, with some seeing it as overvalued, given its single approved drug, its cholesterol-fighting Kynamro. Still, many are willing to pay up for its shares on the basis of its rich pipeline, which holds a lot of potential (though not all of it is likely to be realized, of course). Isis has partnered with lots of bigger pharmaceutical companies, which gives it access to funding but also means it must fork over a portion of profits. Its first quarter featured widening losses in part due to rising expenses as a handful of drugs in development near the finish line. That news was followed by a downgrade from TheStreet to sell and an upgrade from Piper Jaffray to overweight.

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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