The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is believed to be the largest philanthropic organization in the world, was formally launched in 2000 by merging two other foundations: the William H. Gates Foundation and Bill and Melinda’s Gates Library Foundation. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust and Cascade Investment LLC, which manages the personal wealth of Bill Gates, are managed by former bond-fund manager Michael Larson, who has been managing the so-called Gates funds since 1994. In the past several years, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported numerous initiatives in education, world health and population, and community giving. In the not-so-distant past, Bill Gates thanked Mr. Larson for his outstanding investing skills, saying that “Melinda and I are free to pursue our vision of a healthier and better-educated world because of what Michael has done”. Although the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust operates as a charitable organization, Insider Monkey keeps tracks of this philanthropic institution because of its sizable equity portfolio and the remarkable stock picking skills of Michael Larson. So let’s have a look at the top five equity positions of this organization as of the end of the March quarter, of which only the largest holding was reshuffled during the first quarter.
At Insider Monkey, we track around 785 hedge funds and institutional investors. Through extensive backtests, we have determined that imitating some of the stocks that these investors are collectively bullish on can help retail investors generate double digits of alpha per year. The key is to focus on the small-cap picks of these funds, which are usually less followed by the broader market and allow for larger price inefficiencies (see more details about our small-cap strategy).
#5. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT)
– Number of shares owned by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as of March 31: 11.60 Million
– Value of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s holding as of March 31: $794.69 Million
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust has 11.60 million shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) in its portfolio as of the end of the first quarter of 2016, which were aggregately worth $794.69 million at quarter-end. The untouched position accounted for 4.6% of the organization’s equity portfolio on March 31. The shares of the world’s largest retailer have advanced 10% since the beginning of 2016, partially owing to better-than-anticipates financial results for the first quarter released this week. Wal-Mart reported net income of $3.08 billion, or $0.98 per share, for the first quarter, ahead of analysts’ estimates of $0.88 per share. The bottom-line figure dropped from $3.34 billion, or $1.03 per share, recorded for the first quarter of 2015. The retailer’s same-store sales at U.S. stores increased 1% year-on-year, marking the seventh consecutive quarter of growth for the domestic business. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported an ownership of 55.24 million shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) in its latest 13F.