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I ended up doing more in the first quarter reshaping than I had originally intended. Here are the trades:

New Buys

  • Avnet (NYSE:AVT)
  • Ensco International (NYSE:ESV)
  • Alliance Data Systems (NYSE:ADS)

New Sales

  • Bronco Drilling (NASDAQ:BRNC)

Rebalancing Sales

  • Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO) (that was fast)

The trades left me with 5% available in cash, and my normal 35 positions, with one being a double-weight - National Atlantic (NAHC) - and one being a 1.5x weight - Japan Smaller Capitalization Fund (NYSE:JOF).

I didn’t want to go a lot heavier into financials, and particularly not insurance. Ensco ends up replacing Bronco; it’s time to move from the land to the sea in drilling, at these oil price levels. In addition, much as I admire Third Avenue and Curtis Jensen, I reckon their efforts to renegotiate the merger might end up with no merger, as likely as a better deal.

In technology, I tend to buy cheap simple building block companies rather than companies that face possible obsolescence from technological change. Avnet fits that bill.

As for Alliance Data Systems, they are cheaper than before the attempted acquisition, and still have decent growth prospects. This is not usually my style, but the free cash flow can support the current valuation. Yes, it is a financial, but very different from the other companies that I hold.

That’s all. Oh, what a snapback in Valero. When I bought more, I could feel the panic in the market. I bought it anyway; don’t give in to fellings of panic when you are dealing with well-capitalized companies that are leaders in their industries.
Full disclosure: long JOF NAHC AVT ADS ESV

Source: When Rebalancing, Don't Give in to Panic