The latest 13F season has arrived, when many money managers issue required reports on their holdings. It can be worthwhile to pay attention, as you might get an investment idea or two by seeing what some major investors have been buying and selling.
For example, consider D. E. Shaw & Co. Founded by David E. Shaw, the firm has a reportable stock portfolio totaling $73.3 billion in value as of Dec. 31, 2013. Shaw is known as a math wizard and a quantitative-investing pioneer. His firm is extremely selective when hiring, reportedly accepting about one in 500 job applicants -- Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos once made the cut.
Storage giant EMC stands to profit from the rapidly growing cloud-computing and "big data" arenas, and it holds an 80% ownership stake in virtualization specialist VMware (VMW), too. VMware has recently partnered with Google to bring Windows functions to Chromebooks, and its purchase of AirWatch should improve its mobile position. With EMC's forward price-to-earnings ratio near 12, it looks attractively priced, but some warn that it might be a value trap due to slowing growth, especially in its key storage market. Its fourth quarter offered rather strong results, with revenue up 11% over year-ago levels, but a weak outlook for upcoming quarters. EMC initiated a dividend last year and yields 1.5%.
Data management software giant Oracle, yielding about 1.2%, has seen its growth slow in recent years. It has been growing its dividend aggressively while announcing big stock buybacks. Its prodigious free cash flow tops $14 billion annually, and it has been using some of that for acquisitions, such as online marketing specialist Responsys and cloud-computing player Corente. Oracle is facing significant competition from other tech titans and its server business is challenged, but its second quarter still featured estimate-topping results. Oracle stock, trading with a forward P/E near 12, is appealingly priced. The company has gotten some bad press lately due to its key role behind Oregon's troubled Obamacare website.
Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan is a premier midstream master limited partnership, enjoying reliable income as it collects gobs of cash from its partners. Its natural-gas network is the largest in North America, and it has a five-year backlog of currently identified growth projects totals $15 billion. Analysts at TheStreet.com recently rated the stock a buy, liking its revenue growth, growing profit margins, and healthy return on equity, among other things. The long-term picture remains promising for Kinder Morgan, despite some bad press -- a bearish Barron's article, for example. Its dividend recently yielded 5.1%.