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Every quarter, many money managers have to disclose what they've bought and sold. Their latest moves can shine a bright light on smart stock picks.
George Soros is known to some folks these days for his politics and philanthropy, but most of his fame stems from his wealth, which is a result of his outstanding investing prowess. He founded Soros Fund Management back in 1973, and under its umbrella, the Quantum funds racked up an amazing record, reportedly averaging close to 20% annual growth over four decades.
As The New York Times has explained, "His huge gains have come from macro bets, which aim to profit from global economic trends by trading currencies, commodities, bonds and other securities. Mr. Soros made his name, however, betting on currencies."
Soros' stock portfolio totaled $6.8 billion in value as of March 31, 2012.
So what does Soros' latest quarterly 13-F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:
New holdings include VIVUS (Nasdaq: VVUS ) and Ariad Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ARIA ) . VIVUS has many investors excited because its anti-obesity drug Qnexa seems close to getting FDA approval, and obesity is a big, fat problem in America and elsewhere. The company also has a drug to treat erectile dysfunction. Ariad has two promising drugs that will be reviewed this year -- ridaforolimus tackles sarcomatoid cancer, while ponatinib targets leukemia. (The latter has had some phase 2 trial results that are so promising that it might win early approval from the FDA.)
Among holdings in which Soros increased his stake was networking specialist JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU ) . The company was hurt by flooding in Thailand that damaged some of the factories that supplied it, but it has revamped its arrangements and has suffered less than its peers. With its price down from levels at the beginning of the year, the stock is now more attractive.
Soros reduced his stake in lots of companies, including Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) . Some are bearish on the Chinese search-engine giant, as Chinese growth is seen as slowing, but others remain optimistic, since Baidu's slowed growth is still rapid growth, and it still enjoys fat profit margins.
Finally, Soros unloaded several companies, such as Affymax (Nasdaq: AFFY ) . The company's anemia drug Omontys has received FDA approval and could serve many dialysis patients well, but it's also facing competition from Amgen's less convenient Epogen, which many dialysis centers are used to using or have even signed long-term contracts to provide.
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.
If you're worried about Baidu and China's shrinking appeal, check out our special free report "3 Stocks to Own for the New Industrial Revolution ," which focuses on a future made in America.