By Eric Winter
As a testament to a his successful career, investor, writer and billionaire Ken Fisher has earned his spot on Forbes' list of 400 richest Americans, landing at 271 according to the publication. He started his fund, Fisher Asset Management, in 1979, making the firm a dinosaur in the world of fly-by-night hedge funds. Fisher recently disclosed his holdings for Q1 2013 in his latest 13F filing. Our research on these public disclosures has led us to discover a small-cap strategy that is up 37% since its debut last September, compared with the market's 12.9% return (learn more here). Continue reading for our take on the largest new investments made by Fisher so far this year.
Coinstar, Inc. (CSTR) stands out as the fund's top new investment in the first quarter of 2013. The automated, self-service retailer operates coin conversion machines as well as the now-ubiquitous Redbox rental stations. Fisher's 13F shows that he owns slightly over a million shares of the $1.5bn company. CSTR had a volatile showing in the stock market last year and is up slightly year-to-date, registering a 2.4% gain so far. The company's stock has remained a large target by short sellers, with roughly half of the outstanding shares held short. Billionaire Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies owns 936,000 shares (see his fund's major positions here).
Vishay Intertechnology (VSH) is a global semiconductor manufacturer that received a 4.15mm share purchase by Fisher. VSH is only slightly bigger than CSTR, coming in at a market cap of $1.8bn. The stock has had a decent run up so far this year, registering a gain of over 15%. Vishay last reported earnings in February, issuing a beat on both EPS and revenue; Wall Street is hoping that earnings will come in at the same level on VSH's next report due out April 30. Billionaire Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management has a $29mm investment in VSH.
AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) grabs the third spot on our list, comprising $18mm of Fisher's assets (roughly 450,000 shares). The pharmaceutical company has a drug portfolio that includes immunology drug HUMIRA. Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to Overweight in late April, citing the company's under-appreciated pipeline of drugs and potential share of the hepatitis C market. ABBV is on a tear in 2013, up nearly 30% so far. Billionaire Steven Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors has over 1.5mm shares in his portfolio.
Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) was a 300,000 share purchase for Fisher, amounting to just over $12mm. The global payment and banking company operates in over 100 countries and recently completed its acquisition of mobile banking service provider mFoundry at the start of this year. FIS has had a respectable rise in Q1 2013 as well, up 17%. Analysts at Sterne Agee are currently tepid on the stock however, dropping it from Buy to Neutral in the middle of April. Billionaire Ken Griffin of Citadel Investment Group keeps over 4mm shares in his fund.
Genpact Limited (G) rounds out the bottom of our list of new large positions built by Fisher Asset Management in the first quarter of 2013. The business process and IT service provider falls into our small-cap definition of $1bn-$5bn with a size of $4.2bn. G is up nearly 20% since the turn of this year after an up-and-down performance in 2012. Amongst the 400+ hedge funds we track, G saw a 14% boost in popularity going into the end of 2012, receiving buying support from funds like Royce & Associates and Eminence Capital. Billionaire Jeffrey Vinik of Vinik Asset Management owns nearly 600,000 shares.