Billionaire Wilbur Ross’ Top Picks and New Positions

WL Ross & Company’s position in Cascade Bancorp (NASDAQ:CACB) was also unchanged during the October-to-December period, at 11.47 million shares, which were valued at $69.62 million on December 31. The Oregon-chartered, single bank holding company has seen its stock advance by 10% over the past year despite it having lost 11% since the beginning of 2016. The company had a great 2015 in terms of both financial and stock performance, considering that its loan growth reached 13.1% in 2015, while its deposit growth was 5.1%. Cascade Bancorp (NASDAQ:CACB)’s net income for 2015 totaled $20.6 million or $0.29 per share, up from $3.7 million or $0.06 per share reported for 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the company announced an agreement to acquire 15 branches of Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) in Oregon and southeast Washington, which account for $700 million in core deposits. The transaction is anticipated to close in the current quarter. The stock currently trades at 13-times expected fiscal year 2017 earnings, above the forward P/E multiple of 10.70 for the Regional Banks industry. Matthew Lindenbaum’s Basswood Capital reported owning 3.43 million shares of Cascade Bancorp (NASDAQ:CACB) through its latest 13F filing.

The contrarian billionaire acquired a new stake of 155,471 shares in Etsy Inc. (NASDAQ:ETSY) during the final quarter of 2015, which was worth $1.28 million at the end of the year. The shares of the marketplace of hand-crafted goods are down by 3% since the beginning of 2016 and trade significantly below their initial public offering price of $16.00. The company went public in April 2015, selling 13.33 million shares of common stock. Just recently, Etsy Inc. (NASDAQ:ETSY) reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full 2015 year, posting Gross Merchandise Sales (GMS) of $2.39 billion for the year. GMS, which represents the value of all of the goods sold on the e-commerce site, reached $741.49 million in the fourth quarter, which marked an increase of 21.3% year-over-year. This growth was mainly attributable to a 15.5% year-over-year growth in active sellers and a 21.4% increase in active buyers. The company had roughly 1.6 million active sellers in 2015 and more than 24.0 million active buyers. Nonetheless, Etsy has posted quarterly losses for nine consecutive quarters. The hedge fund sentiment towards the stock was positive in the December quarter, as the number of smart money investors with stakes in the company grew to 13 from three quarter-over-quarter. Israel Englander’s Millennium Management also acquired a new stake in Etsy Inc. (NASDAQ:ETSY) during the fourth quarter, which comprised 1.85 million shares.

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Last but not least, WL Ross & Company added a 43,357-share stake in GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO) to its portfolio during the final quarter of 2015, which was valued at $781,000 on December 31. The shares of the maker of mountable and wearable cameras have plummeted by 74% over the past 52 weeks, and are down by 35% in 2016 alone, so the stock had not yet found its bottom in the fourth quarter as Mr. Ross had perhaps projected. The action-camera maker reported revenue of $1.62 billion for 2015, up from $1.39 billion generated during 2014. Nonetheless, the company’s management acknowledged that its growth slowed in the second-half of 2015, which serves as the primary reason behind the company’s disappointing stock performance. GoPro management also recognized “the need to develop software solutions that make it easier for our customers to offload, access and edit their GoPro content”. The smart money sentiment towards the stock was negative in the fourth quarter, as the number of money managers tracked by our team with positions in GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO) dropped to 18 from 25 quarter-over-quarter. John Griffin’s Blue Ridge Capital acquired a 1.13 million-share stake in GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO) during the December quarter.

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Disclosure: None