In an interview on CNBC, David Harding, founder and president of Winton Capital Management said that the S&P 500 is nothing else, but a trading system, and “by the way, it is not a really good one.” Consequently, he presented a different system that could help investors outperform the index: choosing stocks at random and weighting them equally. In fact, Mr. Harding assures that “if you choose stocks at random and combine them, you always beat the S&P 500 -or in 99.99% of cases; and that is consistent with my understanding of investment mathematics.”
Let’s thus take a look at Winton’s equity portfolio in order to find out if any of its top picks deserve further research and could be considered as long-term investment options, like Mr. Harding does.
According to Winton’s latest 13F filing, its largest equity position is that at L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LLL), a $10.4 billion market cap system contractor in aircraft modernization & maintenance, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems, and government services. The fund last disclosed ownership of 1.36 million shares of the company, worth more than $165 million at current stock prices. The stake at L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LLL) accounts for more than 1% of the fund’s total equity portfolio.
Sean Cullinan’s Point State Capital is also betting on L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LLL). Over the first quarter of 2014, the fund started a stake in the company, with 1.58 million shares.
Other big bets were placed on Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), Torchmark Corporation (NYSE:TMK) and Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT). The fund upped its stake in all three of these companies over the last reported quarter.
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) is a $26.68 billion market cap security company in which Winton holds 1.13 million shares. This position has a value of more than $144 million at current stock prices. The stock trades at almost 14 times the company’s earrings, at a considerable discount to the 18x P/E industry average.
Another fund that also boosted its exposure to Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) over the first quarter of 2014 is Cliff Asness’ Aqr Capital Management, which disclosed ownership of 1.72 million shares, after having added 6% to its holdings.
Torchmark Corporation (NYSE:TMK) is an insurance holding company with a market cap barely above $7 billion. Winton last declared holding 1.54 million shares. However, a stock split of 19:100 shares on April 1 turned them into 8.13 million shares, which would be worth $435 million at the current stock price. This means that, since the end of the first quarter, when the fund’s position was worth $121.66 million, the stock has more than tripled in price.
Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT) is a $62.66 billion market cap medical technology provider, of which Winton owns 1.95 million shares, worth almost $125 million at current stock prices.
Another fund that has been capitalizing on Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT)’s 9.6% return, year-to-date, is Harris Associates, which last disclosed ownership of 13.4 million shares of the company.
Watch the full video with Mr. Harding’s interview below:
Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no position in any stocks or funds mentioned.