Centaur Capital's Favorite Stock Picks

by: Insider Monkey

Zeke Ashton started Centaur Capital Partners in 2002. After graduating from Austin College in 1995, he worked as a financial system consultant for the European Banks until 1999. From 1999 to 2001 he was employed by The Motley Fool, investing website, as an investment analyst and a contributor. Besides his own fund, he also co-manages Tilson Dividend Fund (TILDX) with T2 Partners founder Whitney Tilson.

Centaur Capital Partners reported 28 holdings as of March 31, 2011 whereas the Fund reported 30 holdings for the previous quarter. Ashton sold out of 10 positions and initiated 8 New Positions since his last 13f filing. The most notable exited positions were Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) and Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), which lost 4.3% and 5.0% respectively since March. Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) was Ashton’s largest new bet for the quarter where he bought 450,000 shares.


Value (Thousands)

Return Since March 31, 2011

Currencyshares Japanese Yen Tr (NYSEARCA:FXY)



Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd (NYSE:AHL)



Cisco Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CSCO)



Dell Inc (DELL)



Coinstar Inc (NASDAQ:CSTR)



Ishares Trust Russell 2000 (NYSEARCA:IWM)



Western Digital Corp (NYSE:WDC)



Terra Nova Royalty Corp (NYSEARCA:TTT)



Calamos Asset Management Inc (NASDAQ:CLMS)



Gamestop Corp New (NYSE:GME)



E M C Corp Ma (EMC)



Target Corp (NYSE:TGT)



Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc (NYSE:DO)



Madison Square Garden Inc (NASDAQ:MSG)



Himax Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:HIMX)



Laboratory Corp America Hldgs (NYSE:LH)



Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT)



Best Buy Company Inc (NYSE:BBY)



Capital Southwest Corp (NASDAQ:CSWC)



Transatlantic Petroleum Ltd (NYSEMKT:TAT)



M V C Capital Inc (NYSE:MVC)



Alleghany Corp De (NYSE:Y)



Blue Coat Systems Inc (NASDAQ:BCSI)



Foot Locker Inc (NYSE:FL)



Gravity Co Ltd (NASDAQ:GRVY)



Telular Corp (NASDAQ:WRLS)



Westell Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:WSTL)



American Defense Systems Inc (EAG)



Weighted Average Return





Ashton’s latest stock picks that he filed in the Centaur’s latest 13F, returned 1.3% and underperformed SPY by 0.3% since March. Ashton remained bullish on the Japanese Yen as he kept Currencyshares Yen Trust (FXY) as the largest public holding in the portfolio. FXY returned 1.6% since March 31st. The Trust has a market cap of $177 Million and returned -0.6% YTD.

The second largest holding in Ashton’s portfolio was Aspen Insurance Holdings (AHL) where he added 250,000 new shares and increased his stake to 375,000 shares. Aspen has lost-1.1% and underperformed SPY by 2.5% since March 31st. The stock recently traded at $26.86 and has a market cap of $1.90 Billion. The Stock has a dividend yield of 2.23 and P/E ratio of 21.29.

Zeke Ashton added 200,000 shares in the first quarter to his Cisco (CSCO) position and now has $8 Million in the stock. The stock lost 3.0% since March 31st and underperformed SPY by 4.6%. Bruce Berkowitz’s Fairholme Capital has initiated a $600+ Million position in Cisco as well. The stock recently traded at $16.80, and has a market cap of $92.4 Billion. Cisco started paying dividend for the first time early this year and the dividend yield is 1.43%.

Dell Inc. (DELL) was Ashton’s biggest new investment during the first quarter. Ashton invested $6.5 Million in the stock. Dell returned 9.8% since March, outperforming the SPY by 8.2%. Dell recently traded at $16.1 and does not pay dividends. The stock has a market cap of $1.89 Billion and P/ E ratio of 9.63.The stock has seen some serious insider activity where the founder Michael Dell bought 10,437,000 shares in the first quarter of 2011. Michael Dell also bought 7,370,000 shares late last year. Mason Hawkins’ Southeastern Asset Management owns 146+ million shares, which makes it the largest fund owner by a large margin.

Ashton also added 65,000 shares of iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM). The ETF recently traded at $84.84, and has a market cap of $17.63 Billion. The small cap index IWM has returned 1.1% since March, underperforming SPY by 0.5%.

Coinstar (CSTR) was Ashton’s second biggest new investment at the end of March 2011. Coinstar has gained a whopping 14.2% since March, outperforming the SPY by 12.6%. Ashton had nearly $5.9 Million invested at the end of March. Coinstar recently traded at $53.1 and has a P/E ratio of 24.25. The stock has a market cap of $1.67 Billion. Mark Kingdon’s Kingdon Capital and Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital are among the hedge funds with large Coinstar positions.

Centaur Capital Partners started a $4.6 Million investment in Western Digital (WDC). The stock lost 2.8% since March and underperformed SPY by 4.4%. Western Digital recently traded at $36.65 and has a P/E ratio of 10.34. Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group also initiated a $35 Million position in WDC. Robert Rodriguez and Steven Romick’s First Pacific Advisors own more than 6.7 Million shares, which makes it the largest hedge fund holder of the stock.

Terra Nova Royalty Corp (TTT) is one of the largest holdings of Centaur’s portfolio. The firm operates in the Industrial Plant Tech sector and also receives royalty from an iron ore. TTT gained 0.9% and underperformed SPY by 0.7%. The stock recently traded $7.90 and has a P/E ratio of 6.61. The stock has a dividend yield of 2.53%.

Centaur is the largest holder of Calamos Asset Management (CLMS) among the hedge funds by owning more that 238,000 shares. The stock has performed poorly and returned -10.2% since March. Calamos recently had a market cap of $301.6 Million and a P/E ratio of 15.30. The stock has a dividend yield of 2.60%. Jim Simon’s Renaissance Technologies, Whitney Tilson’s T2 Partners and DE Shaw are the other large holders of the stock. Also, Glenn Russell Dubin of Highbridge Capital has recently initiated a position in the stock.

During the first quarter of 2011, Ashton started a position in GameStop (GME) which paid handsomely, and the stock appreciated 23.2% since March. The stock recently traded around $28.0 and has a market cap of $4.0 Billion. GME does not pay dividends and has a P/E ratio of 10.21. Chuck Royce’s Royce & Associates owns almost 6 million shares, which makes them the largest hedge fund owners of the stock. Phill Gross and Robert Atchinson’s Adage Capital Management owns over 5.7 million shares. DE Shaw owns 694K shares and Ascend Capital recently started a position with 536K shares.

Disclosure: I am long MSFT.