By Guan Wang
John Paulson became well known by shorting subprime securities in 2007. The fund manager made $3.5 billion from his bets, becoming a billionaire. Then, in 2010, he set a record in the hedge fund industry by pocketing $4.9 billion. However, Paulson was hit hard last year. The flagship fund of his firm Paulson & Co - the Paulson Advantage Plus - lost over half of its value after fees in 2011. Paulson's personal net worth was also down about $3 billion over the past year, but he is still one of the richest people on the planet.
Paulson recently released his holdings at the end of the first quarter in a 13F filing, but is he still worth imitating? Let's take a closer look at his latest bullish bets.
Mylan Inc (NASDAQ:MYL) is a new face amongst the top five positions in Paulson's portfolio. Paulson increased his stakes in Mylan by 16% during the first quarter of 2012. His fund reported owning a stake worth $575 million in the company at the end of March. Twenty-one hedge funds had Mylan in their 13F portfolios at the end of last year. Bridgewater Associates' Ray Dalio is also bullish about Mylan. Bridgewater reported to own $11 million worth of Mylan shares at the end of 2011 (check out Ray Dalio's top stock picks).
Mylan is currently the third largest generics and specialty pharmaceutical company in the world. It has been expanding rapidly through both internal development and external acquisitions. Major acquisitions over the past few years include the purchase of Bioniche Pharma, an injectable drug maker based in Ireland, and the generic drug business of Merck Generics, a German drug maker with strong market exposure in France, Italy, Britain, Japan, Canada, and Australia.
These acquisitions have widely broadened Mylan's geographic reach. Further, the global generic market is expected to grow rapidly over the next five years, especially in emerging markets. We think the company is well positioned to benefit from robust growth in the world generics market. Mylan currently has about 170 generic product applications under review at FDA and it plans to launch approximately 650 new products in 2012, which will largely boost its revenues. The company is estimated to make $2.48 per share this year and $2.74 per share next year. It is currently trading at 7.85X its 2013 earnings, a discount to the industry average of 12.
During the first quarter, Paulson also boosted his stakes in AngloGold Ashanti Ltd (NYSE:AU). He increased his position by 6% to $1.36 billion. A few other hedge fund managers also like AngloGold. There were 18 hedge funds with AngloGold positions at the end of 2011. Louis Bacon's Moore Global Investments had about $50 million invested in this stock, while Jim Simons' Renaissance Technologies had $45 million invested in AngloGold at the end of March (check out Jim Simons' top stock holdings).
Anglo is priced at 8X its 2013 earnings, versus 11 for the industry average. However, we are not very bullish about the gold mining industry. Gold miner stocks are much more risky than gold commodities. They perform better than gold commodities when gold prices rise, but they also lose more when gold prices fall. In our previous article, we found that gold is relatively overpriced compared with other commodities. Though this does not necessarily mean gold prices will decline, we think it is better to short gold and long other commodities.
Similarly, we do not recommend investors to follow Paulson's bets on SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD), which is the largest position in his portfolio. Some other big bets of Paulson are Delphi Automotive PLC (NYSE:DLPH) and Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE:HIG). In our point of view, auto manufacturer General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a better option than parts manufacturer Delphi (see our previous article about Delphi and GM). Hartford looks attractive. It is trading at 5X its 2013 earnings, a discount to the industry average of 10. The company also has an aggressive share repurchase program, which will benefit its shareholders by boosting its EPS.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.