Annies Inc (BNNY), SWS Group Inc (SWS): Mario Gabelli’s GAMCO Investors Is Active in These Companies – Check Out Its Moves

Mario Gabelli’s GAMCO Investors has been quite active over the past few days. Yesterday, the funds affiliated with Mr. Gabelli (GAMCO, Gabelli Funds, GSI, Teton Advisors, GBL) disclosed that they had went activist in, and tripled their exposure to, SWS Group Inc (NYSE:SWS), taking their holdings to 1.7 million shares of Common Stock, which account for roughly 3.5% of the company’s outstanding stock. On the opposite sidewalk, Mr. Gabelli disclosed today the closing of his stake in Annies Inc (NYSE:BNNY). GAMCO had recently declared holding 1.53 million shares of Common Stock (of which Mr. Gabelli could be deemed beneficial ownership), which represented almost 9% of the company’s shares outstanding.

Mario Gabelli

GAMCO Investors, formerly known as Gabelli Asset Management Company, is a provider of investment advice and brokerage services. It is managed by the famed investor, Mario Gabelli, since inception, in 1976. This New York-based firm manages almost $50 billion in assets, and has made itself a name for its market-beating small-cap stock picks. The firm went public in 1999, but Mr. Gabelli still owns a 50% stake.

SWS Group Inc (NYSE:SWS) is a $337.75 million market cap diversified financial services holding company. According to a recent 13D filing, GAMCO et AL owns an activist stake with 1.7 million shares of Common Stock, which account for roughly 3.5% of the company’s shares outstanding, up from 554,900 shares held by the end of the second quarter of 2014. The funds used an aggregate of approximately $621,952 to purchase the stock.

The purchase came right after the company sent out a letter to stockholders recommending that stockholders vote for the adoption of the merger agreement with Hilltop Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HTH) at the Company’s upcoming Special Meeting of Stockholders to be held on November 21, 2014. Check out the full letter here.

Other major institutional investors betting on SWS Group Inc (NYSE:SWS) are Jerome L. Simon’s Lonestar Capital Management, which disclosed an increased stake, with 3.95 million shares in early-October, and James Dondero’s Highland Capital Management, which acknowledged holding 3.16 million shares by the end of the second quarter of 2014.

According to another Schedule 13D filing, GAMCO sold all of its Annies Inc (NYSE:BNNY) stock yesterday, for an average price of $46.00 per share, as General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) completed the acquisition of the company.

Annies Inc (NYSE:BNNY) is a $790.5 million market cap natural and organic food company. Other major institutional investors betting on it were Jim Simons’ Renaissance Technologies and Dmitry Balyasny’s Balyasny Asset Management, both of which started new positions in the company over the second quarter of the year and held (by the end of the period) 284,900 shares and 202,436 shares, respectively.

As outlined in previous articles, there’s a reason to track Mr. Gabelli’s moves. GAMCO has managed to beat the S&P 500 by more than 2% per year since inception. Its current top stock posotion, DIRECTV (NASDAQ:DTV), is up more than 23.8% year-to-date, while its largest small-cap bet (a category in which both the companies mentioned above fit), placed on Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc (NYSE:RHP), returned about 12.7%, compared to the S&P 500’s 4.7%.

Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no positions in any stocks or funds mentioned

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