The latest 13F season is here, 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 George Soros, known to some folks these days for his politics and philanthropy. His fame initially stemmed from his wealth, though, which is a result of his outstanding investing prowess. He founded Soros Fund Management back in 1973, and under its umbrella, the Quantum funds racked up an amazing record, reportedly averaging close to 20% annual growth over four decades.
Soros Fund Management's reportable stock portfolio totaled $10.1 billion in value as of March 31, 2014. Its latest 13F report shows that it established or added to positions in Cypress Semiconductor Corporation (NASDAQ:CY), Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD).
Cypress Semiconductor supplies chips for mobile devices and has had a tough time recently, averaging annual gains of just 5.8% over the past five years. The company faces tough competition, a shrinking top line, and a bottom line in the red. Still, there are signs that it's turning itself around successfully. Its first quarter's results were solid, with its backlog growing and inventory shrinking -- both by double digits. It added distribution partners to boost its growth in China, and management noted that efficiency improvements will have near-term earnings growing faster than revenue. That's good, but top-line growth is also critical. Cypress Semiconductor stock offers a 4.3% dividend yield for patient believers.
Nokia Corporation, once a telecom equipment powerhouse, is also working on turning itself around. Nokia has sold its handset business to Microsoft for about $7 billion, and among other initiatives, it's moving into the connected-car arena, aiming for a piece of the "Internet of Things" pie. The cash from the big sale will go a long way toward paying down debt, and there are plans for dividends and share buybacks, as well. Nokia's shift from devices toward networking is likely to boost profitability, though the company is still free-cash-flow negative. Bears want faster growth, though, noting that Nokia's first quarter featured revenue down 15% year over year. Some divisions did well: Nokia's HERE mapping business posted 13% growth in external sales, for example. Still, that represents less than 10% of overall revenue, and Nokia faces deep-pocketed competition in Google and Apple, too.
Rite Aid Corporation has been executing an impressive turnaround, closing some stores, while remodeling and relocating others. It's creating "wellness stores," too, and has also acquired a chain of retail health-care clinics. Rite Aid's last quarter was a great one, trouncing expectations as earnings soared nearly 43% over year-ago levels. The stock took a hit this past week, though, when management lowered near-term expectations a bit, seeing rising drug costs putting pressure on profit margins. Generic drugs, though, which offer fatter profit margins, are likely to boost Rite Aid's bottom line, and analysts expect much faster growth from it than from its rivals. Still, don't forget that the company carries a lot of debt. While some see the recent stock drop as a buying opportunity, it's not quite a screaming bargain yet.