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Here’s What This 1,335%-Gainer Has Been Buying and Selling: Metlife Inc (MET), EMC Corporation (EMC)

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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.

Metlife Inc (NYSE:MET)

Today, let’s look at Appaloosa Management, founded by investing giant David Tepper, and known for investing in the debt of companies in distress. Tepper’s investing history includes debt and stock in companies such as Enron and Worldcom. He made billions on bank stocks in 2009, after they had imploded and before they recovered. More recently, he invested in many housing-related companies.

Why should you look at Appaloosa Management’s moves? Well, according to the folks at GuruFocus.com, Appaloosa gained a whopping 1,335% in the first decade of this century, compared with just 16% for the S&P 500.

The company’s reportable stock portfolio totaled $4.6 billion in value as of December 31, 2012.

Interesting developments
So what does Appaloosa’s latest quarterly 13F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:

The biggest new holdings are HCA Holdings Inc (NYSE:HCA) and Metlife Inc (NYSE:MET). Other new holdings of interest include Weatherford International Ltd (NYSE:WFT) , which is down some 27% over the past year. The company has been plagued with accounting-related problems, as well, and remains challenged  by low gas prices and low margins related to an Iraqi contract. In a recent presentation, though, management pointed out that its land-based operations, which represent the bulk of its work, have been growing by an annual average of about 16% over the past decade. Its “unconventional” operations, including shale and oil sands, have been growing even more briskly. Still, despite robust revenue growth and plenty of fans, its bottom line is in the red, and it’s free cash flow is, as well, while debt has been growing.

Among holdings in which Appaloosa Management increased its stake was EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) . EMC is a $53 billion storage giant, poised to profit from the rapidly growing cloud-computing and “Big Data” arenas. It also holds an 80% ownership stake in virtualization specialist VMware, Inc. (NYSE:VMW). EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) has been held back some by softness in technology spending due to a weak global economy, but that won’t last forever. Its recent earnings report was solid, with strong operating income growth, and many were excited to hear about the company’s plans, with VMware, to launch a joint venture called Pivotal, combining the companies’ cloud and data analytics services. Pivotal is likely to be spun off as a separate company in the future.

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