By Matt Doiron
One way to use quarterly 13F filings from hedge funds - which disclose many of their long equity positions as of the end of the last quarter - is to compile the included information and use it to develop investment strategies. We have discovered, for example, that the most popular small-cap stocks among hedge funds generate an average return of 18 percentage points per year (read more about small-cap stock picks). Investors can also use these filings to see what top investors like in a number of categories, including their favorite stocks with low price-to-earnings multiples. Bridgewater, managed by billionaire Ray Dalio, is one of the largest and most successful hedge funds in the world (see Dalio's stock picks). Here are five of its largest positions in stocks with both trailing and forward P/E multiples of 10 or lower:
For-profit education company Apollo Group Inc (NASDAQ:APOL) was one of Bridgewater's top stock picks by market value with the fund reporting a position of 1.8 million shares. This was an 88% increase from three months earlier. Apollo is down 61% in the last year as investors have cooled on for-profit education, and in fact the company did report declines in revenue and earnings of about 10% last quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. We're not fans of the industry, but the earnings multiples are low enough (the stock trades at 6 times forward earnings estimates) to make Apollo a potential value play even if performance remains negative.
Bridgewater owned 1.2 million shares of Safeway Inc. (NYSE:SWY) at the end of December. Grocery stores (with the exception of fast-growing Whole Foods) tend to trade at value levels and Safeway is no exception with trailing and forward P/Es both clocking in at 10. While net income was actually significantly higher in the fourth quarter of 2012 than a year earlier, revenue growth was very low and we would guess going forward that improvements on the bottom line should be lower. According to the most recent data nearly 30% of Safeway's outstanding shares are held short.
Xerox Corporation (NYSE:XRX) was another of the fund's stock picks with the filing disclosing ownership of 2.5 million shares. The company has been struggling recently, with a very small fall in sales contributing to 11% lower net income in its most recent quarter compared to the same period in the previous year. The market is already pricing in low expectations for Xerox, though Wall Street analysts are actually projecting increased earnings over the next two years: the trailing and forward earnings multiples are 10 and 7, respectively. As a result Xerox is another stock that we would say is worth a look.
Dalio and his team added shares of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX), which is in the process of acquiring two oil and gas companies to broaden its basic materials business. We don't particularly like this move, but neither did the market (the stock is down about 15% since the deal was announced three months ago) and as a result Freeport-McMoRan is cheap at a trailing earnings multiple of 10. We're still concerned about the integration risks of these companies (as well as, of course, the commodity pricing and macro risks that come with Freeport-McMoRan) but the market may have overreacted to the company's decision.
The fund initiated a position of about 760,000 shares in Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) during the fourth quarter of 2012. The stock is down 20% in the last year as investors worry that Intel will not be able to manage the decline of the PC industry, which serves as the demand for many of its products (net income was down a similar amount in Q4 from its levels a year ago). The stock now trades at 10 times earnings whether we use trailing or forward numbers. Renaissance Technologies, whose founder Jim Simons is now a billionaire, increased its holdings of Intel to nearly 20 million shares between October and December (find Renaissance's favorite stocks).