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Andrew Hall was a star trader at Phibro LLC, an international commodities trading firm that trades in oil, natural gas, metals, and other commodity products. In February 2010, Hall launched Astenbeck Capital with Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Their goal is to manage hedge funds on behalf of Phibro’s investors. Astenbeck Capital mainly invests in energy and commodities and 80% of the fund is owned by Andrew Hall today, while the remaining 20% is owned by Occidental Petroleum.

Top 20 positions of Astenbeck Capital at the end of September.

CompanyName

Ticker

Value

Activity

SECTOR SPDR TRUST

XLE

164803

17%

OIL SERVICE HOLDRS TRUST

OIH

54284

5%

TOTAL S A

TOT

48948

New

CHEVRON CORP NEW

CVX

30847

82%

MARKET VECTORS E T F TRUST

GDX

30260

1%

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC

RDS

28323

60%

SCHLUMBERGER LTD

SLB

24675

29%

BP PLC

BP

20880

New

CONOCOPHILLIPS

COP

20747

110%

SPDR SERIES TRUST

XOP

20191

1%

HALLIBURTON COMPANY

HAL

18889

11%

NATIONAL OILWELL VARCO

NOV

18028

-12%

HESS CORP

HES

16963

28%

APACHE CORP

APA

15890

239%

WHITING PETROLEUM CORP

WLL

14392

82%

ANADARKO PETROLEUM CORP

APC

11621

59%

MURPHY OIL CORP

MUR

10251

30%

EOG RESOURCES INC

EOG

10002

New

CORE LABORATORIES NV

CLB

8831

4%

DEVON ENERGY CORP NEW

DVN

7952

1%

The value of Astenbeck’s portfolio increased from $611 million at the end of June to $644 million at the end of September. It also had more positions. At the end of the second quarter, Astenbeck had 38 positions in the portfolio, while it now has 49 positions. Over the third quarter, the fund bought many new positions and also sold out five positions. For instance, the fund had $3.9 million invested in Mosaic Company (NYSE:MOS) at the end of June, but it did not disclose owning any shares of the stock at the end of September. MOS gained 4.13% so far since the end of September, lower than the 5.80% of SPY. Astenbeck also sold out Consol Energy Inc (NYSE:CNX), Marathon Oil Corp (NYSE:MRO), Range Resources Corp (NYSE:RRC), and Tetra Technologies Inc (NYSE:TTI).

On the other hand, Astenbeck also opened some new positions in the third quarter. The largest new position is Total SA (NYSE:TOT). According to Astenbeck’s latest 13F, the fund initiated a brand new $49 million of TOT over the third quarter. TOT was up 11.78% since the end of the third quarter, beating the market by nearly 6 percentage points. Astenbeck also bought new stakes in BP Plc (NYSE:BP) and EOG Resources Inc (NYSE:EOG). The fund reported to own $21 million of BP and $10 million worth of EOG at the end of September. BP returned 14.28% and EOG gained 34.88% since then, both outperforming the market by a margin.

Astenbeck was also bullish about Sector SPDR Trust (NYSEARCA:XLE) and Service Holdings Trust (NYSEARCA:OIH). These two positions, together with TOT, were the top three positions in Astenbeck’s portfolio at the end of the third quarter. Astenbeck also increased its stakes in both stocks over the third quarter. It increased its position in XLE by 17% to $165 million and its position in OIH by 5% to $54 million. Since the end of September, XLE returned 13.18% and OIH gained 14.04%, both outperforming the market.

Astenbeck is performing quite well in the fourth quarter. The main positions and the new positions in the portfolio all had better than market performance so far. In addition, Andrew Hall’s previous experience as well as the ownership of Occidental Petroleum is invaluable to a hedge fund focusing on the energy and commodities sector. We believe that by focusing on the best stock picks of Astenbeck Capital Management, investors will be more likely to outperform the market in the long term.

Disclosure: I am long COP.

Source: Top Energy Picks By Star Trader Andrew Hall