Billionaire David Harding’s Consumer Goods Picks Include Altria Group Inc (MO)

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We track hundreds of hedge funds’ quarterly 13F filings as part of our work developing investment strategies; we have found, for example, that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds earn an average excess return of 18 percentage points per year (learn more about our small cap strategy). We also like to analyze individual filings to search for any trends in how top managers are playing the markets, and potentially identify investment ideas for further research. When we looked through billionaire David Harding’s Winton Capital Management’s 13F, we saw a number of consumer goods stocks among the fund’s largest holdings. Read on for our quick take on Winton’s five largest consumers goods positions or see the full list of the fund's stock picks.

Harding and his team’s largest holding by market value was their more than 590,000 shares of Kimberly Clark Corp (NYSE:KMB). The personal products company looks like an ideal defensive stock: its beta is essentially zero, reflecting no relationship to the broader economy, and its dividend yield is 3.3% at current prices. With a market cap of $38 billion, Kimberly-Clark is certainly well capitalized as well. We’d note that at this valuation the stock is priced for future growth, with trailing and forward earnings multiples of 21 and 16 respectively.

David HardingSpices and seasonings manufacturer McCormick & Company, Incorporated (NYSE:MKC) was another of Winton’s top picks with the filing disclosing ownership of over 670,000 shares. McCormick’s yield isn’t particularly high but it also stands out for a fairly low beta, at 0.4. While growth of both revenue and net income was quite modest in its most recent quarterly report (for the quarter ending in February) compared to the same period in the previous fiscal year, the valuation is fairly aggressive here with McCormick valued at a trailing P/E of 24. As a result we would avoid the stock.

The fund increased the size of its position in Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) by 72% to a total of about 340,000 shares. Colgate-Palmolive is another stock where markets are expecting earnings per share to increase considerably going forward, and even with Wall Street analysts calling for some improvements this year and next year the forward earnings multiple is 19. The company’s earnings have actually been down, going by recent reports, though it does fall in line with the other two stocks we’ve discussed here in terms of having a low beta (of 0.2).

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