Michael Larson might be relatively unknown, perhaps owing to the fund manager’s efforts to stay out of the public eye, but he certainly has one of the most high profile jobs in the asset management industry. The 57 year old money manager is the chief investment officer of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has an endowment of over $44 billion, according to its last financial report. After analyzing the foundation’s equity positions in companies with a capitalization of over $1 billion from the latest 13F, it seems that it did pretty well in the first quarter as returns for the period, based on this metric, amounted to 7.6%. This definitely warrants a look at the firm’s top picks for the quarter.
Our research determined that following the small-cap stocks, that hedge funds are collectively bullish on, can help a smaller investor beat the S&P 500 by around 95 basis points per month (see more details here).
#5 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)
– Shares Owned by Gates Foundation (as of December 31): 11.6 Million
– Value of Holding (as of December 31): $711.26 Million
During the first three months of the year shares of the $213 billion retailer rose sharply by more than 12%. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is undergoing a shakeup as it comes to terms with the fierce competition in the retail space and a shift to online shopping. The last fiscal year marked the first time that Wal-Mart’s sales dropped since at least 1980. Among various other measures, the company is closing down stores in less profitable locations, including rural areas and opening new ones in areas of higher growth opportunities. Up till now, 154 stores in the US have been closed. Legendary value investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is one of the largest stockholders of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) holding some 56.19 million shares.
#4 Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT)
– Shares Owned by Gates Foundation (as of December 31): 11.26 Million
– Value of Holding (as of December 31): $765.29 Million
Gates Foundation’s holding in Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) remained unchanged during the October-December period and the company’s stock surged by nearly 13% in the following quarter. The hike has come despite the management’s warning that its first quarter financial results will in all likelihood fall below the analysts’ expectations. However, they still believe that the company will be able to deliver on its full-year guidance. Shares of the $43 billion heavy-equipment manufacturer are still trading 14% below their 52 week high as the global slowdown has hit the company hard and the future still looks somewhat uncertain. Billionaire David Shaw‘s D. E. Shaw & Co. cut its stake in Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) by 29% to 522,400 shares during the fourth quarter.