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Gardner Russo & Gardner Betting on Beer, Cigarettes, and the Credit Needed to Buy Them

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The current round of 13F filings is nearing its conclusion as smart money investors continue to reveal their equity holdings as of March 31. In this article, we are going to take a look at the top stock picks of Tom Russo‘s Gardner Russo & Gardner, which revealed an equity portfolio worth $11.83 billion as of the end of March, with the consumer staples sector representing 56% of that value. The fund primarily invests in large-cap companies and uses external research to complement its in-house research to employ fundamental analysis in seeking out value investments across the globe. Let’s dig deeper into the future prospects of the fund’s top holdings to see if they could serve as valuable ideas for retail investors.

At Insider Monkey, we follow around 800 smart money investors, whose 13F portfolios we analyze quarterly to determine how they are trading thousands of stocks collectively. We identify 15 stocks in the small-cap space using this data as part of our market-beating investment strategy (see more details here).

#5 HEINEKEN HOLDING (OTCMKTS:HKHHF)

 – Shares Owned by Gardner Russo & Gardner (as of March 31): 10.83 Million

 – Value of Holding (as of March 31): $846.37 Million

Gardner Russo & Gardner’s Heineken position was cut by 40,000 shares during the first quarter, to 10.83 million shares. Heineken’s first quarter beer volumes rose by 11% year-over-year, with the Asia Pacific region showing the most growth in organic volume, at 23%. A strong Vietnamese and Chinese New Year period and the earlier timing of Easter in 2016 underpinned this trend. HEINEKEN HOLDING EUR1.60 (OTCMKTS:HKHHF)’s shares are up by a little over 3% this year. There were no other investors in our database with positions in Heineken on December 31.

#4 Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA)

 – Shares Owned by Gardner Russo & Gardner (as of March 31): 9.73 Million

 – Value of Holding (as of March 31): $919.06 Million

Mr. Gardner added about 24,000 Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) shares to his fund’s portfolio during the first quarter, with the holding representing 7.77% of its value at the end of March. While Mastercard’s CEO Ajay Banga has sold 50% of his shares this month, it should be stressed that the sale was planned months in advance, rather than being related to a sudden fit of bearishness. Mastercard managed to beat both the top and bottom line-estimates with its financial results for the first quarter, with the company’s worldwide purchase volume growing by 12% year-over-year on a local currency basis. Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA)’s stock is down by a little over 2% in 2016. Jim Simons‘ renowned managed futures fund Renaissance Technologies was bullish on the $102.8 billion transaction and payment services company during the first quarter, hiking its stake by 16% to 3.50 million shares.

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We’ll have a look at Gardner Russo’s top-3 stock holdings on the next page.

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