Paulson Fund's New Bets Not Paying Off

by: Cambridge Fund Research

Paulson & Co. primarily runs 4 distinct hedge fund strategies: the “gold fund” (which is exactly what it sounds like…positions in gold and gold miners), the Paulson Partners fund (merger-arbitrage), the Paulson Advantage fund (event-driven) and the Paulson Credit fund.

The 13F filings below show the top 20 long positions as a % of total reported longs for each quarter going back to 2008. Note, the first two positions are primarily held by the gold only fund (Paulson & Co. also has gold-denominated share classes for each of their other funds). Looking at the next 18 positions, however, reveals 5 new bets being made by the Paulson funds:

click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

(Note: the percentages shown above are over total reported 13F assets of which the “gold-only” fund represents approximately a billion dollars – much of which is accounted for by GLD & AU.)

Transocean (NYSE:RIG) had a relatively big increase in positioning from the end of 2010. Interestingly, the stock peaked right around the end of Q1 2011 and is off over 20% since:

After Fidelity, Paulson is the 2nd largest shareholder with a little more than 7% of shares outstanding.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is a new name this quarter and represents another big bet on a tech turnaround. Despite being considered “cheap” by many, the stock’s recent sell-off could spell trouble for the Paulson funds in the near-term:

Lubrizol (LZ) & Weyerhaeuser (NYSE:WY) both represent merger-arbitrage plays (for the Paulson Partners fund) so we’ll separate them from this analysis.

Finally, Alpha Natural Resources (ANR), (a hedge fund favorite) is another brand-new position this quarter and another position that been under a lot of pressure lately:

Paulson & Co. is the largest holder with almost 10% of the shares outstanding:

…and the stock currently has approximately a 30% short interest. Given the huge volume traded at the beginning of January and then later at the beginning of June, it begs to question whether this name will show up in Paulson’s next filing.

Given that the Paulson Advantage funds were down over 1% through March, as well as the recent troubles surrounding the investment in Sino-Forrest (OTC:SNOFF), the 3 new investments detailed above signal another potentially rocky quarter for the hedge fund titan.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.