Every quarter, many money managers have to disclose what they've bought and sold, via "13F" filings. Their latest moves can shine a bright light on smart stock picks.
Today, let's look at Fisher Asset Management, founded in 1979 by Ken Fisher. You may know Fisher by his longtime column in Forbes magazine, where he's also No. 271 in the magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.8 billion. You may know his father as well: Phil Fisher wrote the seminal investing text, "Common Stocks, Uncommon Profits."
The company's reportable stock portfolio totaled $35.1 billion in value as of Dec. 31, 2012. It manages money for more than 100 large institutions, and its strategy involves macroeconomic research and fundamental analysis.
Interesting developments So what does Fisher's latest quarterly 13F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:
The biggest new holdings are Education Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE:EDR) and Mack Cali Realty Corp (NYSE:CLI). Other new holdings of interest include Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) . Exelon is the nation's largest nuclear power company and is involved in other energy-generation businesses. It's trading near a 52-week low and its dividend yield is near 7%. The company has been whacked by the relatively high cost of nuclear energy in an environment of very low gas prices. The current situation won't last forever, though. Exelon carries a lighter debt load than many peers and is expanding into solar and wind power. In recent news, the company faces possible fines if it's found to have underreported costs to retire reactors, although it's disputing the allegations.
Among holdings in which Fisher increased its stake was Chinese search engine giant Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) , which has been hurt in part by China's slowing growth rate. Baidu itself isn't growing too slowly, though, and much of China and Asia have yet to get online, representing further growth potential. But Baidu has serious competition. It also got whacked recently, after posting quarterly results that beat expectations and reducing near-term projections.
Fisher reduced its stake in lots of companies, including Spain's Banco Santander, S.A. (NYSE:SAN) and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX). Banco Santander's earnings plummeted earlier this year, as it got rid of many bad loans, and in its year-end results it reassured some by maintaining its dividend, which recently yielded a hefty 8%. Some may worry about its location, in troubled Europe, but know that it generates much of its revenue in Latin America, where economies such as Brazil's are in better shape and growing faster than many in Europe.