At the beginning of the month, I marveled that no one was listening to John Paulson, arguably the most successful investor in the world. Paulson & Co. reported its end-of-year holdings to the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday, and I'm not about to miss an opportunity to gain some insight into this super-investor's views:

Doubling down on drillers
Paulson is a bit late to the party with a new position in drilling services company Transocean (NYSE: RIG). There were much better opportunities to buy the shares without taking appreciably more risk in the third quarter, when the Gulf oil spill was front-page news every day. Indeed, another value investor, Bill Miller, made a very persuasive case for Transocean last June.

Paulson also added to his position in another company that was involved in the Gulf spill, Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC). This increased bet could simply be another way for Paulson to express his bullish stance on the global economic recovery.

Still betting on financials
Paulson may have trimmed his positions in Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and Citigroup (NYSE: C), but the changes are pretty small relative to the size of his holdings (-2.5% for Citigroup, -10.1% for B of A). Furthermore, he added to positions in SunTrust Banks (NYSE: STI) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) (significantly, in the case of Wells). Paulson has already earned large profits on his "recovery" bet on financials (including in excess of $1 billion on Citi), but continuing to hold these shares is consistent with his conviction that people are underestimating the potential of the U.S. recovery.

I like this bet. In fact, at the end of November, I wrote up a trade idea consisting of a basket of the four largest commercial banks (B of A, Citi, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo. My thesis was that the valuation of the group simply didn't reflect its "inevitable" position in the banking sector. Even after a run-up in the shares since then, that still looks like it's the case today.

Unashamedly bullish on gold
Paulson & Co. remains the largest shareholder of SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD), and the size of the position (in terms of shares) is unchanged. I don't expect Paulson to alter this position; indeed, he offers a gold-denominated share class across all of his funds, and the bulk of his personal wealth is invested in this class of shares. Despite gold's weakness this year, if inflation fears continue to gain acceptance, it's likely to be favorable to that position.

Agree or disagree with Paulson's trades? Let me know in the comments section below.

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