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Here's What This Big Hedge Fund Is Buying

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 the Eminence Capital hedge fund company, with a stock portfolio valued at about $2.8 billion as of March 31, 2012. The company is run by Ricky Sandler, who seeks growing companies in growing industries, as well as out-of-favor companies in out-of-favor industries. He also likes to short stocks when he finds ones he expects will decline.

The portfolio's top holdings, representing more than 18% of its value, are Google, CME Group, and Tyco International.

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

New holdings include International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT  ) , which makes and sells slot machines and gambling machines to casinos. The sagging Las Vegas economy has hurt it, but that market will recover eventually, with old machines being replaced by new machines. The company's revenue has been flat to down in recent years, but earnings have been rising, suggesting improved efficiency. Net margins have fluctuated a good bit, but they top 12%.

Among holdings in which Eminence Capital increased its stake was Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) . The giant financial institution has more international exposure than most of its peers, which could help or hurt it, depending on how global economies fare. One promising thing for the company is that its shareholders are holding it responsible, recently rejecting an executive pay package.

Eminence Capital reduced its stake in lots of companies, including MAKO Surgical (Nasdaq: MAKO  ) and NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP  ) . Many MAKO shareholders lost a lot of confidence when the company recently reported disappointing earnings. Indeed, the stock got whacked to the tune of 37%! All isn't bleak, though; the number of procedures performed with its surgical robotic equipment is rising, and so are gross margins. Still, it's a risky proposition.

Data storage specialist NetApp recently sunk to a 52-week low as the "scrappy underdog" adjusted its projections downward. Still, data storage needs seem likely to keep building over time, and NetApp has been growing briskly, with revenue climbing at an accelerating rate (though things have been bumpier for earnings).

Finally, Eminence Capital unloaded several companies, such as Ashland (NYSE: ASH  ) , maker of Valvoline products. Just last month, after Eminence sold it, the company announced plans to buy International Specialty Products, and that helped send shares upward. The purchase will help Ashland shift its focus more toward specialty chemicals.

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

If you're nervous about investing in companies such as International Game Technology, Ashland, or MAKO, seek out companies that can reward you well while helping you sleep at night. Our special free report, "3 American Companies Set to Dominate the World," will review three familiar names which are also compelling investments.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, owns shares of Google and MAKO Surgical, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Citigroup, Google, and MAKO Surgical. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of MAKO Surgical and Google. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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