Einhorn, Pickens and Puplava: Q1 2011 Portfolio Tracking

by: Davy Bui

While I follow a value investment philosophy, I find it useful to follow other more speculative professional money managers. Finding stocks favored by both speculative investors and value vultures is rare but not impossible. Such a stock would probably be a strong candidate for investment.

David Einhorn runs Greenlight Capital and is also a professed value investor. Of course, Einhorn made his name by publicly and loudlly calling out some Wall Street firms during the financial crisis. More recently, Einhorn has taken a short position against the St. Joe Company (NYSE:JOE), a Florida real estate concern -- pitting him against famed value investor Bruce Berkowitz. It remains to be seen who is right in that situation.

  • Einhorn's three largest new holdings were Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Yahoo (YHOO) and CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS). None would be considered a high-conviction buy based on total dollar amount, with BBY the biggest buy at $172M, but it is possible Einhorn is still accumulating shares in these or other stocks.
  • Greenlight's largest position is Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) at $506M. Einhorn doubled his Travelers Companies (NYSE:TRV) stake to $250M.
  • Divestitures during Q1 2011 were relatively minor holdings, wih the largest position being Everest Re Group (NYSE:RE) at $83M.
  • Substantial reductions included Ensco (NYSE:ESV) being halved to $255M and big takedowns in his various plays on Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH).
  • All in all, a fairly innocuous filing which yielded few new ideas or insights for my style of investing.

Boone Pickens is a famed energy investor and, as I am a firm believer in peak oil, I peruse Pickens' BP Capital filings for new energy ideas. Pickens does not employ a strict value approach in buying stocks, but that does not preclude a possible opportunity showing up in his 13F-HR filing.

  • Based on the transactions listed in the filing, Pickens' outlook must be characterized as somewhat bullish as he did far more buying and holding then selling. His biggest new adds were two established oil producers, Apache (NYSE:APA) and Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE:CNQ).
  • Pickens substantially boosted stakes in energy producer Murphy Oil (NYSE:MUR), and in Noble Corporation (NYSE:NE), a drilling company.
  • As mentioned, Pickens was mainly a buyer but did sell some mostly smaller stakes, with the largest divestiture being QEP Resources (NYSE:QEP), an oil producer with some acreage in the Bakken Shale.

Jim Puplava is decidedly not a value investor, but he has been a gold bug for some years now, as anyone who has followed his "Financial Sense Newshour" podcast well knows. Puplava files his 13F-HR under his brokerage firm, which makes deciphering the filing more difficult; the number of securities listed is quite large and he seems to tailor account holdings to the client. Nevertheless, Puplava could be a good source for speculative gold mining plays as he prefers the junior mining space over the major miners.

  • After that lead-in, it's ironically fitting that Puplava's three biggest new buys during Q1 were SLM (NYSE:SLM), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), all decidedly not gold-mining stocks. In fact, only a handful of Puplava's 30+ new portfolio additions were in the precious metals segment: Extorre Gold (XG) and Great Panther Silver (NYSEMKT:GPL).
  • I have not listened to his podcast in some time, but it looks as if Puplava is taking some profits in the precious metals segment, especially silver. Perhaps he thought silver had gotten a bit ahead of itself?
  • Still, Puplava's largest listed position is Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) with substantial stakes in Silver Wheaton (SLW) and the gold ETF (NYSEARCA:GLD) so it does not look like he's turned long-term bearish on the segment. Other large stakes include Exxon-Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Unitedhealth Group (NYSE:UNH) and Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU).
  • Note that Puplava sometimes invests in speculative mining plays that are not required to be filed with the SEC.

You can view all of their 2011 Q1 portfolio moves in spreadsheet format:

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

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