By Matt Doiron
We have been analyzing the latest round of 13F filings from hedge funds and other notable investors. There is a delay inherent in these filings, since they disclose long equity positions as of the end of December, but we have actually found that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds outperform the S&P 500 by an average of 18 percentage points per year, even with this lag. Read about our research on small cap stock picks. Investors can also look at what top investors reported owning, and then research those companies in more detail for potential inclusion in their own portfolios. We took a look at billionaire Julian Robertson's filing (see the full list of Robertson's stock picks), and found some stocks he owned that satisfy conventional value criteria. Here are the five largest positions by market value that Robertson owned at the beginning of 2013 with both trailing and forward price-to-earnings multiples of less than 15:
Robertson cut his stake in Apple Inc. (AAPL) by 58%, but the consumer technology company was still one of his five largest holdings overall at a position of about 40,000 shares. With a number of hedge funds selling Apple last quarter, AIG replaced it as the most popular stock among hedge funds (find more of the most popular stocks among hedge funds). Apple certainly qualifies as cheap at 10 times trailing earnings; the market is pricing in an expectation of lower gross margins and therefore net income, even if revenue rises. Analyst consensus is for a forward P/E of 8 and a five-year PEG ratio of 0.5 -- in other words, for continued high earnings growth -- but Apple could fall far short of that target and still be a good value.
The billionaire initiated a position of 330,000 shares in Capital One Financial Corp (COF) between October and December. Capital One trades at 8 times earnings, whether we compare its market cap to trailing results or expectations for 2014. In the case of Capital One, we can also consider its price compared to the book value of its equity as a valuation metric, and there we see that the stock is currently at a discount to book value with a P/B ratio of 0.8. We think that the stock is worth considering for value investors.
HCA Holdings Inc (HCA), a $17 billion market cap hospital company, was another of Robertson's cheap stock picks, as the filing disclosed ownership of a little over 600,000 shares of the stock. Even though the share price has risen over 40% in the last year, HCA currently carries trailing and forward P/Es of 11 and 10, respectively. The company's earnings declined in percentage terms in the fourth quarter of 2012 versus a year earlier, but this was mostly due to special items in 2011. In addition, revenue was up. Hospitals tend to be cheap in general, so value investors should compare HCA to its peers.
Robertson bought 1.2 million shares of Dole Food Company, Inc. (DOLE) in the fourth quarter of last year. At a market capitalization of just under $1 billion (but with plenty of volume -- on average, over 1.3 million shares are traded per day), Dole trades at 14 times its trailing earnings. 27% of the outstanding shares are held short, even though the sell-side is predicting growth in earnings. However, in its most recent quarter, sales had slipped from their levels at the same point in the previous year.
According to the 13F, Robertson increased his ownership of SouFun Holdings Limited (SFUN) to over 600,000 shares at the end of December. SouFun is a $1.9 billion market cap real estate- and home improvement-focused Web portal in China. Between a rash of fraud allegations against Chinese companies the past couple of years, general macro concerns, and particular warnings that the country is in the midst (or at the peak) of a real estate bubble, it's no surprise that the trailing earnings multiple is only 14, despite rapid growth. Revenue was up 30% in Q4 compared to a year ago, helping power an 85% increase in earnings. It may be worth a closer look, but would clearly be a risky move in any case.
Disclosure: I am long AAPL.