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Sandler Asset Management was established in 1988. It currently manages over $1 billion in assets under management. Andrew Sandler joined the firm in 1991 as a research analyst and has served as portfolio manager since 1997. He leads the investment team and also serves on the Management Committee. Mr. Sandler has a BS in Finance from University of Wisconsin.

During the second quarter, Sandler reduced his position in iShares Russell 2000 (IWM) puts and MasterCard Inc. (MA) by over 30%. The fund also slightly reduced its position in Coca Cola (KO) by 5%. IWM lost 16.23% vs. -8.47% for SPY since the end of June, which means that IWM puts provided a timely hedge during severe market turmoil. MA and KO had positive returns during the same period. MA even had a double digit return of 17.5%.

Here are Sandler Asset Management’s top stock picks at the end of June:

Company

Ticker

Value (x1000)

Activity

Return since June

ISHARES RUSSELL 2000 Puts

IWM

41400

-33%

-16.23%

VAIL RESORTS INC

MTN

32178

141%

-14.21%

TANGER FACTORY OUTLET

SKT

29300

72%

4.14%

SEARS HOLDINGS Puts

SHLD

28290

13%

-18.28%

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN

KSU

26758

108%

-12.25%

SCRIPPS NETWORKS Calls

SNI

24831

New

-11.01%

ILLUMINA INC

ILMN

23875

New

-40.15%

CABLEVISION SYSTEMS

CVC

23414

0%

-30.40%

PETSMART INC

PETM

22032

New

-1.66%

SCRIPPS NETWORKS

SNI

21984

86%

-11.01%

ROBBINS & MYERS INC

RBN

21927

54%

-15.62%

CERNER CORP

CERN

21425

New

15.01%

BUNGE LTD Puts

BG

20686

49%

-8.43%

JOY GLOBAL INC

JOYG

20105

46%

-20.17%

COCA COLA CO

KO

19285

-5%

5.72%

NEOGEN CORP

NEOG

19033

102%

-24.64%

DOVER CORP

DOV

18848

178%

-24.64%

DISCOVERY COMM

DISCK

18666

64%

3.83%

FORTINET INC

FTNT

18661

478%

-36.28%

CHECK POINT SOFTWARE

CHKP

17930

New

-0.25%

USANA HEALTH SCI Puts

USNA

17138

New

-13.17%

SCHEIN HENRY INC

HSIC

17124

New

-9.18%

VIACOM INC NEW

VIA

16789

58%

-0.31%

MASTERCARD INC

MA

16182

-34%

17.46%

BLACKBOARD INC Calls

BBBB

15620

New

2.12%

JB HUNT TRANSPORT

JBHT

15502

64%

-19.14%

During the second quarter, Sandler initiated a brand new $25 million position in Scripps Networks calls. SNI lost 11.01% since the end of June. Sandler also added $24 million Illumina Inc., $22 million PetSmart Inc., and $21 million Cerner Corp. to the portfolio. CERN had a double digit positive return of 15.01% since the end of second quarter. Jim Simons also had $42 million in CERN stocks at the end of June (check out Simons’ top stock picks).

The top three largest positions of the fund are IWM puts, Vail Resorts Inc., and Tanger Factory Outlet. These three positions returned about 3% on a weighted average basis since the end of June, outperforming SPY by about 11 percentage points. Another main investor in SKT shares is Ken Heebner, who invested $72 million in the stock (check out Heebner’s top stock picks).

The best performing position in the fund is Sears Holdings puts. It is also the fund’s fourth largest position, with over $28 million in value. Additionally, Sandler increased the position by 13% during the second quarter. SHLD declined by 18.3% since the end of June. Stephen Mandel also had $197 million invested in SHLD puts (check out Mandel’s top stock picks).

Sandler's other profitable large cap positions were KO, MA, and DISCK. We like Andrew Sandler. Three out of his top four positions outperformed the market, and two of them had double digit returns even when SPY declined by over 8%. We believe that by focusing on Sandler’s top stock picks, investors are able to beat the market in the long run.

Source: Sandler Asset Management's Top Stock Picks