$17 Billion Columbus Circle’s Stock Picks Include Apple Inc. (AAPL)

Another credit card stock in Columbus Circle’s portfolio was Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) with the firm reporting ownership of almost 490,000 shares. Renaissance Technologies, whose success since inception has made founder Jim Simons a multi-billionaire, was buying shares of Mastercard during Q3 2012 (find Renaissance’s favorite stocks). Mastercard carries a current-year P/E multiple of 20, which seems a bit high given its moderate growth rates of revenue and earnings. The stock has risen 35% in the last year, based on general strength in the credit card industry. We aren’t as interested in it as we would be in Discover.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) was another stock that Chiboucis and his team liked, with 9.3 million shares in their portfolio at the beginning of January. Billionaire Ken Fisher has named Pfizer his top stock pick for 2013; it is the largest single-stock holding by market value in Fisher Asset Management’s portfolio (research more stocks Fisher likes). The pharmaceutical company struggled in Q3 2012, with its revenue and earnings falling at double-digit rates, but the sell-side expects Pfizer to do well this year and so the current stock price is only 12 times consensus earnings for 2013. Pfizer also pays a dividend yield of 3.6% at current prices and dividend levels.

A third credit card stock, Visa Inc (NYSE:V) rounded out Columbus Circle’s top five stock holdings. The firm owned 1.5 million shares of Visa, which was the most popular services stock among hedge funds in Q3 (find more services stocks hedge funds love) and is up 46% in the last year. The company’s fiscal year ended in September; in the fourth quarter of that fiscal year Visa recorded a 15% increase in revenue and a large percentage increase in net income. We do like Visa’s prospects for further growth, but think that the market may have already priced in significant opportunities given the forward P/E of 19. Of course, we think it’s significant that Chiboucis is generally bullish on credit card stocks as well.

Disclosure: I own no shares in any stocks mentioned in this article.

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