Edward S. Lampert is chairman of Sears Holdings Corporation (SHLD) and founder, chairman and CEO of ESL Investments. He has an undergrad degree from Yale. Lampert is also an ex-Goldman Sachs analyst, like Farallon’s Thomas Steyer. He started Connecticut-based ESL Investments in 1988 with $28 million. According to Forbes, he is ranked 316th on the list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated net worth of $3 billion.
Lampert believes in concentrated value investing, which is basically aiming to buy assets for less than what they are worth and to sell them at or closer to what they are worth. Lampert is often compared to billionaire Warren Buffett. Currently his long-term investments are Sears Holdings Corp., AutoNation (AN) and AutoZone (AZO).
During the first quarter of 2011, Lampert's ESL Investments' RBS Partners Fund placed new bets on Big Lots Inc (BIG) by buying 1.3 million shares. Lampert sold out his H & R Block (HRB) shares during that quarter.
Below are Lampert’s positions at the end of March 2011:
1) Sears Holdings Corp: Lampert had $3.98 billion of SHLD shares as of March 31, 2011. SHLD has lost 8.82%, underperforming SPY’s 0.4% return, since the end of March. During the first quarter Lampert kept his SHLD holdings constant. Bruce Berkowitz had a $1.1 billion position in Sears Holdings Corp at the end of December 2010.
2) AutoZone Inc: Lampert had almost $2.89 billion of AutoZone shares at the end of March. AutoZone has gained 3.7% since then. The stock returned nearly 135% during the past four years. This underlines Lampert’s talent in picking long-term winners. Lampert reduced his AutoZone shares by 10.35% during the last quarter of 2010 and by another 5.84% during the first quarter of 2011. It seems that Lampert will continue to reduce his Autozone shares in near future. Cantillon also sold Autozone during the last quarter of 2010.
3) AutoNation Inc: AutoNation lost 5.7% since the end of March. Lampert had $2.2 billion of AN shares at the end of the first quarter. There have been several insiders buying and selling AutoNation’s stock.
4) Capital One Financial Corp. (COF): Lampert had almost $381 million of COF shares at the end of March. Lampert initially bought COF during the third quarter of 2008 at an average cost of $41.68. He didn’t start reducing his shares until the first quarter of 2010. He reduced his holding by 5% during the first quarter of 2010 and 20% in the second quarter of 2010. The stock currently trades at $53.48, and managed to beat the SPY’s 20.7% return since September 2008. John Paulson also has a $935 million position in Capital One Financial. Bill Miller, Ray Dalio and Andreas Halvorsen are other high profile COF investors.
5) CIT Group, Inc. (CIT): Lampert had 4.15 million CIT shares at the end of March. CIT gained 0.05% since then. Lampert increased his CIT shares by 16.4% during the first quarter of 2011. Daniel Loeb, Whitney Tilson, David Einhorn and John Paulson also have CIT shares in their portfolios.
6- Genworth Financial, Inc. (GNW): During the first quarter Lampert kept his GNW holdings constant . He initially added GNW to his portfolio at the end of 2008, when the stock went down to $1 from $15. Later Lampert added to his position as the stock price was hovering between $1 and $7. Currently GNW trades at $11.21.
7- Big Lots Inc: Lampert had $56 million in BIG shares at the end of March. BIG lost 12.4% since the end of March underperforming the SPY by 12 percentage points.
8. Gap Inc (GPS): GPS has returned 1.7% since the end of March, outperforming the SPY by 1.2 percentage points. Lampert increased his GPS shares by 854% during the first quarter of 2011. Lampert had nearly $613 million invested at the end of March.
9. Seagate Technology PLC. (STX): The stock is one of the new investments of Lampert during the last quarter of 2010. Lampert had $114.6 million in STX shares at the end of March. STX has gained 17% since then, outperforming the SPY by 16.5 percentage points. Larry Robbins’ Glenview had $31 million in STX at the end of March.
10. Cisco Systems (CSCO): CSCO has lost 3.2% since March, underperforming the SPY by 3.7 percentage points. Lampert increased his CSCO shares by 13.6% during the first quarter of 2011. Lampert had nearly $125 million invested at the end of March. CSCO is one of 27 Out of Favor Stocks That Hedge Funds and Analysts Love.
Lampert's value weighted average performance of his 13F portfolio has been -3.4% since the end of March, vs. SPY’s 0.5%. This is a unique opportunity to imitate a successful hedge fund manager without paying a premium.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.