Here's What One of the Richest Americans Has Been 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 Fisher Asset Management, founded in 1979 by Ken Fisher. You may know Fisher by his longtime column in Forbes magazine, where he's also No. 263 in the magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.7 billion. You may know his father, as well: Phil Fisher wrote the seminal investing text, Common Stocks, Uncommon Profits.

The reportable stock portfolio of Fisher's company totaled a whopping $37.5 billion in value as of March 31, 2012. The company manages money for more than 100 large institutions, and its strategy involves macroeconomic research and fundamental analysis.

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

New holdings include Diamond Foods (Nasdaq: DMND  ) , which has seen its stock plunge 73% over the past year. The company has been investigated for improper payments to walnut growers, failed to report three quarterly reports on time, suspended its dividend, was unsuccessful in its attempt to buy Pringles from Procter & Gamble, and faces delisting from the Nasdaq market. That's enough to make some run away, but others simply see the stock as having fallen into bargain territory -- provided it successfully turns itself around.

Among holdings in which Fisher Asset Management increased its stake were Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF  ) and TriQuint Semiconductor (Nasdaq: TQNT  ) . Iron ore producer Cliffs has been struggling, with rising labor costs and fuel expenses putting pressure on its profits. Another concern is slowing growth in China -- but even when slowed, China is still growing, and Cliffs has been rewarding shareholders with massive dividend increases in the past few years.

TriQuint, meanwhile has been cut roughly in half over the past year, but in its favor it's supplying components for iPads, which bodes well for success. (Although it is risky for a company to depend too much on any other company for a big chunk of its revenue.) TriQuint does have other customers, but they include beleaguered mobile phone makers Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) and Research In Motion. The company also has other businesses, such as supplying network infrastructure projects.

Fisher Asset Management reduced its stake in a lot of companies, including Exelon (NYSE: EXC  ) and Nokia. Exelon is the nation's top nuclear power company, and offers a fat dividend topping 4%. But low natural gas prices have disrupted many utilities, and nuclear power's reputation has been tarnished by the disaster in Japan. Still, Exelon carries less debt than many peers, and as a utility providing a very necessary good, it's a defensive investment.

Nokia, meanwhile, has been posting some ugly results over the past few years, unsuccessfully fighting the iPhone and other competitors. To survive, its latest plan is to focus on low-end smartphones, while cutting tens of thousands of jobs. Will it work? Stay tuned...

Finally, Fisher Asset Management unloaded several companies, such as Patriot Coal and Endeavor Silver. Patriot shares have imploded, plunging 94% over the past year, as coal use has fallen, due partly to the low price of natural gas. Endeavor has gained 20% and remains promising to those who expect high silver prices.

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

If you'd like to profit off the trillion-dollar mobile revolution with stocks other than Nokia or even TriQuint, check out this free special report to learn about the surprising star of the mobile revolution.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, owns shares of Procter & Gamble, 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 TriQuint Semiconductor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Exelon and Procter & Gamble, as well as writing a covered straddle position in Exelon. 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.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (2)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 18, 2012, at 3:29 PM, botfeeder wrote:

    Finally, Fisher Asset Management unloaded several companies, such as Patriot Coal and Endeavor Silver. Patriot shares have imploded, plunging 94% over the past year, as coal use has fallen, due partly to the low price of natural gas. Endeavor has gained 20% and remains promising to those who expect high silver prices.

    Great call, Fisher! Buy high sell low.

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2012, at 2:09 AM, lowmaple wrote:

    Following any body' herd one quarter after doesn't appeal to me. He may be selling those shares this quarter. Who knows?

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2012, at 7:03 AM, TMFSelena wrote:

    Very true, lowmaple. But it can still be interesting or helpful to see what these folks have done. Could introduce you to a company that still seems worth buying, to you, or could nudge you into reading up on a company you own that you, too, might want to sell.

    You're right, though -- no one should blindly copy, especially based on this info, as the managers' opinions may now be different.

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