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Illumina, Inc., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc: Billionaire Halvorsen’s Top 3 Picks

Andreas Halvorsen’s Viking Global disclosed its top three picks for the past quarter in a 13F Form filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the filing, the investment firm was betting the most on Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN), with a position of 8.29 million shares of common stock. At the end of the fourth quarter, the second and third largest holdings in Viking Global’s equity portfolio were represented by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NASDAQ:WBA) and Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) respectively, both the subject of mergers or rumored mergers.Andreas Halvorsen

Viking Global is a Greenwich, Connecticut-based hedge fund that was launched in 1999 by the former Tiger employees Andreas Halvorsen, David Ott, and Brian Olson. Between 2005 and 2010, both Mr. Ott and Mr. Olson stepped down from their positions at the firm, while Mr. Halvorsen stayed put and is presently still in charge of managing Viking Global. In its first year of activity, the short/long hedge fund achieved an 89% gain, while returns amounted to 20% in 2009, and to  3.8% in 2010. The global equity fund employs a bottom-up fundamental stock picking method and has a diversified and balanced equity portfolio. The fund disclosed an equity portfolio this quarter with a market value of $21.78 billion, down from $24.9 billion at the end of the third quarter.

According to its last 13F filing, Viking Global’s top pick at the end of the fourth quarter was Illumina Inc (NASDAQ:ILMN). Last quarter, the firm’s holding in the company accounted for 7.03% of its equity portfolio with 8.29 million shares of common stock. However, in January the hedge fund had already revealed a reduction in its exposure to the stock, with a 13G filing that disclosed the sale of 103,800 shares. Although it has been betting on this stock for a longer period of time, Mr. Halvorsen’s fund began increasing its stake in the company considerably during the first quarter of 2014.

Viking Global seems to have struck gold by holding Illumina Inc (NASDAQ:ILMN) as its top pick, as the stock gained 67% in 2014. Furthermore, the company’s latest financial results suggest the positive trend is set to continue. Illumina registered a 32% increase in revenue, achieving a figure of $512 million, compared to the $387 million reported during the same period the previous year. Furthermore, the stock beat the fourth quarter earnings consensus estimate of $0.78 per share, by registering Non-GAAP earnings of $0.87 per share. In addition to Mr. Halvorsen’s firm, Samuel Isaly’s Orbimed Advisors is also betting on Illumina and holds a stake of 1.48 million shares, after increasing its exposure to the company by 9% last quarter.

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