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Every quarter, fund managers have to disclose what they've bought and sold. Their latest moves can shine a bright light on smart stock picks.
Today, let's look at investing giant Donald Yacktman, who founded Yacktman Asset Management in 1992. He isn't as well-known as investors such as Buffett, Soros, Berkowitz, and the like, but his track record is right up there with them. Yacktman is a value investor, aiming to achieve the highest possible risk-adjusted long-term return on his investments. According to the folks at GuruFocus.com, Yacktman gained about 175% cumulatively over the past decade, compared with just 32% for the S&P 500.
The Yacktman portfolio totaled about $12 billion in value as of Dec. 31, with 64 holdings. The portfolio's top three holdings, representing about a third of its asset value, are News Corp., PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble.
So what does the latest Yacktman quarterly 13-F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:
A new holding is Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , which was the worst-performing Dow stock of 2011. The stock has been rising lately, and the bank's credit quality improving as well. But while it has returned to profitability, that's largely due to its selling off assets, not to its doing more business or boosting its margins.
One company that Yacktman has increased its stake in is Corning (NYSE: GLW ) . The glass giant recently posted shrinking revenue and earnings, partly due to price cuts and oversupply issues, but its future still looks shiny. The company is generating a lot of free cash flow, and its Gorilla Glass has been selling well.
Another holding that has experienced a boost in shares held is Sysco (NYSE: SYY ) . A dominator in food transportation, the company has been cutting costs, streamlining its operations, and maintaining a solid dividend payout for more than 40 years. Our sluggish economy has presented a challenge, but Sysco is poised to profit as the economy recovers and restaurant businesses get a boost.
Meanwhile, Yacktman pared down its minimal Altria (NYSE: MO ) holding. The tobacco giant has been long revered for its dividend track record and its reliable performance, but times are changing in the U.S., with more people quitting smoking due in part to rising tobacco taxes and increased regulations aimed to curb smoking. Those interested in investing in tobacco might want to check out Altria's globally focused cousin, Philip Morris International.
Shares of Walgreen (NYSE: WAG ) were also pared back. This isn't too surprising, as the drugstore titan faces a tough battle now that it has severed its partnership with Express Scripts and has lost many customers and millions of prescriptions.
Finally, Yacktman sold out of business information specialist Dun & Bradstreet entirely, perhaps due to the company's tough competition online and its modest revenue and earnings growth.
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.
Looking for promising investments? Check out our free special report -- "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying" -- and learn which stocks are appealing to Warren Buffett and other great investors.