By Eric Winter
Billionaire David Einhorn has been doing right by his investors since 1996, working with a lean team in a one-floor New York office to provide annualized returns around the 20% mark. His long/short value-oriented hedge fund Greenlight Capital invests across various market caps and time frames; included in that are a number of long-term positions (a year or greater) that have provided him with significant dividend income. We should note that Einhorn isn't an income investor. Our research has shown that hedge funds are excellent stock pickers. For example the most popular small-cap stock positions in hedge fund's 13F filings outperformed the S&P 500 index by 18 percentage points per year (learn the details here). Einhorn probably initiated these dividend positions to achieve significant capital gains and he doesn't mind getting paid while waiting for the market to acknowledge the undervaluation in these stocks. See our list below for Einhorn's top yielding dividend plays:
Going back to 13F filings from 2011, we see that hard drive and electronic storage manufacturer Seagate Technology plc (STX) has been a mainstay in Einhorn's portfolio, providing him with a high dividend yield of 4.3%. During the same holding period, the stock returned in excess of 30%, proving to be a positive one-two punch for Greenlight Capital. Seagate recently reported Q4 2012 earnings at the end of last month, issuing a beat that signified improvement in the hard drive industry. Sell-side analysts are still too nervous to issue a full-on buy for the stock currently, with a heavy majority advocating a Neutral or Hold rating. Louis Navellier of Navellier & Associates recently piled into the stock, building a near-$50mm position.
With a yield of 3.8%, Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. (BAGL) ranks second on our list. Famous for operating Einstein Bros. Bagels, the company is involved in manufacturing, franchising, and restaurant management. Einhorn has kept his share size the same since his Q4 2011 filing, choosing to sit on his 10.7mm shares. Over the same time period, the stock posted negative gains on the year, but the company's most recent earnings announcement for Q3 2012 showed positive growth in both earnings and revenues versus the same quarter a year prior. It is due to report its next announcement on March 7th, with estimates roughly coming in at the same price year over year. Famed investor Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies carries $2.5mm in his diversified portfolio.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is a favorite amongst hedge funds as well, with billionaires like Ken Fisher and the aforementioned Jim Simons on the ownership roster (see Ken's top picks here). The tech stock remained relatively flat on the year for 2012, but the 3.3% dividend yield did offer investors some reprieve. Einhorn dropped his position in half going from his Q4 2011 filing to his Q1 2012 filing, starting the year with 7.5mm shares versus 15mm. Wall Street is taking a moderately positive view on the stock while waiting to see how consumers react to Windows 8 and their Surface tablet offering. Morgan Stanley recently downgraded the stock to equalweight, joining analysts who are cautious of the lack of earnings growth in the tech industry.
Marvell Technology Group, Ltd. (MRVL) has seen huge support from Einhorn in the past year, as he took his 17mm shares in Q4 2011 up to 33mm shares by the time of his Q3 2012 13F filing. The semiconductor manufacturer is in the small-cap range, with a market cap of $5.1bn and a dividend yield of 2.5%. The stock struggled through most of 2012, caught in a steady decline and netting investors who bought this time a year back a 40% loss. Einhorn has averaged down on his position, as did fellow billionaire David Tepper of Appaloosa Management. Einhorn is still a big believer of MRVL and has put down more of his fund's money to prove it.
Last on our list is Tessera Technologies, Inc. (TSRA), signifying another tech play, except this one occupying positions in the intellectual property and 3-D packaging spaces. TSRA recently reported an earnings miss on the seventh of this month, exacerbating the already negative consensus estimate. The stock trudged through 2012, posting double-digit negative returns, and unlike MRVL, Einhorn kept his position small and even, only accounting for roughly 0.16% of his fund's $6bn in assets. The company is still stuck in a transition phase, so we would sit on our hands like Einhorn before jumping in or adding more. Steve Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors took a more bullish view in Q3 2012, opting to almost double his position.
Disclosure: I am long MSFT.