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 Moore Capital Management, managed by billionaire Louis Moore Bacon. Bacon is known for employing a global macroeconomic focus in his investing, and has been among the top 20 money earners since the 1990s, per GuruFocus.com. Bacon's fund has turn in some spectacular performances, but also some lackluster ones, and after poor results in 2011, he returned $2 billion to shareholders, citing the fund's size as an obstacle. Still, Bacon seems to have solid investing chops, with his flagship fund reportedly averaging nearly 19% in annual gains since its inception in 1989 (as of 2012).
The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $6.2 billion in value as of March 31, 2013.
So what does Moore's latest quarterly 13F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:
The biggest new holdings are call options on the iShares Russell 2000 ETF and shares of the SPDR S&P Retail ETF. Other new holdings of interest include Nokia (NYSE:NOK), which has struggled in recent years and sits in penny-stock territory. It has been regaining its footing, providing less developed economies with less expensive mobile phones and also partnering on Windows phones. It's also coming out with new offerings. Sales in China have been shrinking recently, however, and some worry about developing nations embracing more pricey smartphones. The stock jumped this week on rumors that a Chinese firm may buy the company. It's worth noting that despite recently sporting net losses and negative free cash flow, Nokia does have plenty of cash, even outstripping debt.
Among holdings in which Moore Capital Management increased its stake was Sequenom (NASDAQ:SQNM), which makes molecular and genetic diagnostic tests. The company's revenue has been growing, but its losses have been widening and it's free-cash-flow negative. Still, it has plenty of merit and potential. One of its tests can check for Down syndrome in a non-invasive manner, which should be of interest to many older women. Future tests might address conditions such as macular degeneration.
Moore Capital Management reduced its stake in lots of companies, including Amarin (NASDAQ:AMRN) and Synovus Financial (NYSE:SNV). Amarin stock has fallen roughly in half over the past year. The company is a late-stage cardiovascular-focused biotech enterprise, with a promising (and FDA-approved) drug to lower triglycerides, fish-oil-based Vascepa. It needs a big partner for Vascepa, though, and one likely suitor recently bought a competitor instead.
Synovus, with its stock up about 50% over the past year, has been posting strong return-on-equity (ROE) numbers and working to pay off its TARP obligations. In May, it acquired $54 million in deposits from the failed Sunrise Bank. Some worry about Synovus' significant residential real estate business and the current low interest rate environment. The stock yields 1.5%, with its dividend unchanged since 2009, when it was cut by 83%.
Finally, Moore's biggest closed positions included the SPDR S&P 500 ETF and the PowerShares QQQ Trust ETF. Other closed positions of interest include Exact Sciences (NASDAQ:EXAS). Exact Sciences is developing a colon cancer test, which isn't proving to be as exact as some might have hoped, though it still has value. The company recently announced plans to issue more than $60 million worth of new shares to raise funds for further product testing and development. Some think it might end up bought out.
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.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, has no position in any stocks mentioned, and neither does The Motley Fool. 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.