Aussie Billionaire Kerr Neilson’s Bullish Move On Paypal Holdings Inc. (PYPL) And His Other Top Stock Picks

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Platinum Asset Management founder Kerr Neilson is widely-known for his value-based, contrarian stock picking approach to investing, and many compare his investment style with the one pursued by Warren Buffett. The Australian billionaire usually goes against the crowd by crafting a long-term view on the market, which is what explains his bullishness on China. “Investing is like passive hunting. It’s great fun! The more you see, the more you think you can see. You build on your past experiences. It’s a cumulative effect. You always want to learn more”, said the hedge fund manager in an interview last year. This way of thinking has surely assisted Neilson in creating and developing one of the top investment management companies in the world. However, the turbulent third quarter put its mark on the U.S-focused equity portfolio managed by the Aussie billionaire, as the market value of this portfolio declined to $3.69 billion from $4.86 billion quarter-over-quarter. It is not necessarily the disappointing equities performance that explains this huge drop, but the turmoil and volatility definitely pushed the hedge fund manager to undergo an extensive rebalancing process. That being said, the following article will discuss Kerr Neilson’s top equity holdings at the end of the third quarter and the performance of the companies in question over the past several months.

Kerr Neilson

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#5 Paypal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:PYPL)

– Shares Owned by Platinum Asset Management (as of September 30): 6.43 Million

– Value of Holding (as of September 30): $199.54 Million

Kerr Neilson’s investment firm added a 6.43 million-share position in Paypal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:PYPL) to its portfolio during the third quarter, which accounts for 5.40% of the fund’s equity portfolio as of September 30.  On July 17, PayPal became an independent publicly-traded company after spinning-off from eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) through a pro rata distribution of PayPal’s common stock to eBay shareholders. It appears that the digital payment company attracted strong investor interest following its spin-off, as a whopping 87 hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey owned the stock at the end of the third quarter. The strengthening U.S dollar did not prevent PayPal from delivering a strong financial performance in the third quarter. The company posted net income of $301 million on net revenue of $2.26 billion, compared to $234 million in income on net revenue of $1.98 billion reported for the same period of last year. Activist investor Carl Icahn of Icahn Capital LP acquired a 46.27 million-share stake in Paypal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:PYPL) during the September quarter while exiting his eBay position, showing which half of the former mashup he was bullish on.

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#4 Baidu Inc. (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU)

– Shares Owned by Platinum Asset Management (as of September 30): 1.71 Million

– Value of Holding (as of September 30): $235.28 Million

The multi-billion dollar investment firm increased its exposure to Baidu Inc. (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) during the September quarter by 329,867 shares, ending the three-month period with 1.71 million shares. The shares of the leading provider of online search services in China have fully recovered from the August sell-off, but they are still down by 9% for the year. It is hard to overlook the company’s rich valuation, so Baidu will have to continue delivering strong financials so as to justify its current share price. For instance, the stock is trading at a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 38.13, which is significantly above the average of 23.12 for the companies included in the S&P 500 Index. Earlier this week, Baidu and China Citic Bank Corp. announced plans to create a bank in order to join the fast-expanding online lending market in China. Aside from Platinum Asset Management, Ricky Sandler’s Eminence Capital represents another top shareholder of Baidu Inc. (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU), with 1.76 million shares.

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