Billionaire Julian Robertson’s Top Stock Picks Include Google Inc (GOOG), H&R Block, Inc. (HRB)

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We track quarterly 13F filings from hundreds of hedge funds and other notable investors, including legendary investor Julian Robertson (formerly of Tiger Management). We’ve found that the information included in 13Fs can be useful in developing investment strategies (for example, the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds earn an average excess return of 18 percentage points per year) and of course it can also be useful to go through the favorite stocks of top managers and use these as a source of initial investment ideas. Read on for our quick take on Robertson’s five largest holdings as of the end of March or see the full list of his stock picks.

The 13F shows that Robertson increased his stake in Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) by 19% to a little over 34,000 shares during the first quarter of 2013. According to our database of 13F filings, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was the second most popular stock among hedge funds during the quarter (check out our full top ten list). The stock currently trades at 16 times forward earnings estimates, taking into account analysts expectations of a strong improvement in EPS over the next year and a half; net income grew 16% in the first quarter of 2013 versus a year earlier.

TIGER MANAGEMENTThe billionaire initiated a position of about 850,000 shares in H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE:HRB), which we’ve noticed picked up a good deal of attention from hedge funds during the quarter. The sell-side is also bullish on the tax preparation company: in the current fiscal year, they are looking for $1.89 in earnings per share which implies a P/E multiple of 15. We would be a bit concerned, however, that H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE:HRB)’s focus on physical locations (still responsible for the majority of business) could suffer from competition from tax software companies and services.

Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) was another of Robertson’s top picks. Last quarter the credit card company experienced an 8% increase in revenue compared to the same period in the previous year, with earnings rising 12%. However, the market has already priced high growth into the current stock price: Mastercard’s trailing and forward earnings multiples are 25 and 19 respectively. That’s a pretty aggressive valuation, even with the company’s recent performance, and we think that we’d be more interested in looking at competitors such as Discover and Capital One.

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