Every quarter, many fund managers have to disclose what they've bought and sold. Their latest moves can shine a bright light on smart stock picks.
Today let's look at investing giant John Paulson. Founded in 1994, Paulson & Co. has grown into one of the largest hedge fund companies in the world.
Is Paulson really worth paying attention to, though? Very much so. According to the folks at GuruFocus.com, Paulson gained about 250% in the first decade of this century, compared with just 16% for the S&P 500. That certainly gets my attention, although his 2011 performance was a big letdown.
Paulson's latest quarterly 13F filing shows that as of Dec. 31, 2011, his top holdings, making up roughly 30% of his portfolio, were the gold ETF SDPR Gold Shares, AngloGold Ashanti, and Delphi Automotive
So what else does Paulson's filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:
His third-largest holding, Delphi Automotive, is also a brand-new one. The company emerged from bankruptcy protection not too long ago and is doing business in a different way now. It's using more foreign labor (thereby cutting costs) and looking to do more business in emerging markets (which offer the chance of faster growth).
Paulson upped his stake in gold miner NovaGold Resources
A company Paulson sold out of entirely was major coal miner Alpha Natural Resources
Two stocks that Paulson reduced his stake in over the past quarter are InterDigital
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.
Looking for promising investments? Check out our free special report -- " The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying " -- and learn which stocks are appealing to Warren Buffett and other great investors.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter @SelenaMaranjian, holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Transocean. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of InterDigital. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.