Every quarter, many money managers have to disclose what they've bought and sold, in "13-F" filings. Their latest moves can shine a bright light on smart stock picks.
Today let's look at Viking Global Investors, founded in 1999 by Andreas Halvorsen and David Ott, who had previously worked together at Julian Robertson's respected Tiger Management firm. Viking is known as a long-short global equity fund, meaning that it aims to maintain long positions in companies on which it's bullish, and short positions in those where it's bearish.
The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $12.4 billion in value as of June 30.
So what does Viking's latest quarterly 13-F filing tell us? Following are a few interesting details.
New holdings include Skyworks Solutions (Nasdaq: SWKS ) . It's a company that has benefited from the explosive growth of iDevices, as it makes components for smartphones. The fact that it's inside iPhones has many very excited, especially with a new iPhone model on the way, but some worry that it's rather dependent on one key customer. Others point out that it actually serves many other markets, such as the automotive, medical, avionics, and military ones, and other manufacturers, too.
Among holdings in which Viking Global increased its stake was Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) . The stock got cheaper after posting somewhat disappointing earnings last month, but it has been climbing back up, partly on excitement over the iPhone 5 and also because of the company's huge legal win over Samsung that could kill off some patent-infringing competitors to iDevices.
Viking Global reduced its stake in a bunch of companies, including US Bancorp (NYSE: USB ) , led by the admired Richard Davis, who has kept the company very involved in old-fashioned banking. The stock might be less attractive to some lately, having hit a 52-week high recently, and with a higher valuation than many peers. Still, it has outperformed many of those banks and has a more conservative profile, that can help investors sleep better.
Finally, Viking Global unloaded several companies, including Penn West Petroleum (NYSE: PWE ) and Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU ) . Penn West is tempting, with its 7.4% dividend yield, but it is paying out more than it's bringing in despite having already reduced its dividend by 40%. It's looking to generate funds by selling off about $1 billion in assets. Its second-quarter report showed revenue and earnings down over year-ago levels, but management is hopeful about cost-cutting efforts, exploration projects under way, and enhanced oil recovery methods.
Chinese search-engine giant Baidu has some folks worried, 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. The potential from China and elsewhere in Asia remains compelling, as my colleague Brian Stoffel has noted: "The Asian continent alone has 56% of the world population, but only 26% of those people were using the Internet by the end of 2011."
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.
Despite its dominance over the past few years, Baidu still faces challenges and opportunities just like any other company. Fortunately, The Motley Fool has just put together a premium research report on Baidu that includes a year's worth of updates.