David Einhorn and his Greenlight Capital hedge fund have built a solid history of performance for their investors, and many investors follow Einhorn's picks closely for ideas for their own investment portfolios. Over the past quarter, Einhorn has added several new positions, and among the biggest moves were purchases of CNX Coal Resources (NYSE:CNXC), Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN), and TerraForm Global (NASDAQ:GLBL). Let's look at these three companies to try to discover what Einhorn sees in them going forward.
A big bet on coal
Einhorn has been a longtime fan of CONSOL Energy (NYSE:CNX), lauding the company's efforts to go beyond its legacy coal business to move into the natural-gas arena. The plunge in energy prices across the board has hurt CONSOL stock, but the company recently spun off some of its coal assets into the CNX Coal Resources master limited partnership, and Einhorn added a huge position in the MLP as well. Greenlight's filing includes nearly half of the outstanding units of the MLP.
Einhorn has said good things about the natural-gas side of the business, which he argues investors don't fully appreciate because of the oversupply of natural gas in the region. Yet he also thinks that most analysts are valuing CNX's coal assets far too cheaply, as the company has made smart moves to cut costs in an effort to boost profitability even with commodity prices at rock-bottom levels. CNX Coal Resources is a risky play, but it's one that could pay off if coal recovers.
Finding its way
Greenlight's commitment to navigation equipment maker Garmin is far less aggressive, with Einhorn having bought 625,000 shares worth about $22.4 million. Garmin has been under increasing competitive pressure for years, as the rise of smartphone-based navigational capabilities has made dedicated in-vehicle GPS equipment unnecessary for most users.
In response, Garmin has targeted the fitness arena, with GPS watches and computers that have a good reputation among athletes. Nevertheless, Garmin could face greater competition in that space as well, as simpler devices offer many of the basic features that Garmin devices have. Garmin does have a solid reputation in niche markets like aviation and marine navigation, but at least for now, the company's CEO doesn't see Garmin breaking itself up in an attempt to enhance shareholder value. It will be interesting to see if Einhorn's presence changes that strategic dynamic going forward.
A day in the sun
Einhorn has a history of investing in solar companies, and Greenlight's foray into SunEdison (NASDAQOTH:SUNEQ) has gotten a lot of attention lately. SunEdison created TerraForm Global to acquire renewable-energy assets in various emerging-market regions, and the two entities recently entered into a transaction to transfer 425 megawatts of production capacity in India in exchange for $231 million.
Einhorn has said that the market hasn't understood the creation of yieldcos like TerraForm Global, and as a result, they've criticized SunEdison and sent TerraForm's shares plunging following their July IPO. Nevertheless, Einhorn believes that TerraForm will eventually regain access to capital markets and find ways to profit from renewable-energy opportunities across the globe. If that happens, then the potential gains from current depressed levels would be enormous.
Following Einhorn's bets is far from a sure thing for investors, and all it takes is a look at the poor performance that some of Greenlight's biggest picks have suffered recently to understand that there's plenty of risk involved with these stocks. Nevertheless, for those who believe Einhorn's long-term bullish thesis, these three stocks could be interesting plays for 2016 and beyond.
Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.