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Billionaire Andreas Halvorsen Buys Shares of New Public Company, Bill Gates’ Cascade Bullish on AutoNation Inc. (AN), and More

As revealed in another Form 4 filing, Matthew Lindenbaum’s Basswood Capital Management and its affiliates sold 56,865 shares of Bridge Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:BDGE) at prices in the range of $27.50 to $27.75 per share, trimming their aggregate stake to 1.61 million shares. The bank holding company that conducts operations through its wholly-owned subsidiary Bridgehampton National Bank had a great 2015 in terms of financial performance. The company reported record core net income of $27.3 million for 2015, which was up 49% year-on-year. In the meantime, the stock is up by 11% over the past 12-month period despite losing 8% since the beginning of 2016. The recent slump in the company’s share price has made stock cheaper, but not cheap enough to call it attractive. The stock trades at a forward P/E multiple of 11.40, which compares with the ratio of 10.7 for the regional banks industry. Billionaire Jim Simons’ Renaissance Technologies owned 70,900 shares of Bridge Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:BDGE) at the end of September.

Matthew Lindenbaum
Matthew Lindenbaum
Basswood Capital

Another Form 4 filing showed that Cascade Investment LLC, the investment arm of billionaire Bill Gates, managed by Michael Larson, bought 273,951 shares of AutoNation Inc. (NYSE:AN) last Thursday at prices varying from $44.99 to $46.93 per share. After the recent purchase, Cascade holds a stake of 17.12 million shares of Autonation, which account for 15.48% of the company’s outstanding common stock. The shares of the largest automotive retailer in the nation are down by nearly 23% year-to-date, mainly due to growing concerns that the rising interest rates could hinder auto finance and that auto sales might have reached their peak last year.

The company generated total revenue of $20.86 billion last year, as compared to $19.11 billion reported a year earlier. At the same time, AutoNation Inc. (NYSE:AN)’s new vehicle unit sales reached $12.00 billion for 2015, up from $10.97 billion in 2014. Most importantly, the average age of cars and trucks in the U.S. reached a record high of 11.5 years, which compares with the average of 9.8 years in the period of 2002 to 2007. Hence, it is highly likely that AutoNation will be able to achieve new vehicle unit sales growth in 2016 due to increasing replacement demand. It should be noted that the stock trades at a forward P/E ratio of 9.57, while the average for the S&P 500 Index totals 15.87. David Harding’s Winton Capital Management upped its position in AutoNation Inc. (NYSE:AN) by 118,381 shares during the fourth quarter to 560,351 shares.

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