Kerr Neilson‘s Australia-based hedge fund, Platinum Asset Management has recently revealed its top picks in a recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The market value of the fund increased during the fourth quarter to $5.22 billion from $4.91 billion a quarter earlier. While the new positions initiated amounted to 9, additional purchases on previously held stocks totaled 21. The fund also sold out of seven stocks and reduced its positions in another 21 companies during the fourth quarter.
Kerr Nielson, who ranked 527th on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people in 2013 is often likened to the legendary investor Warren Buffett in light of his long-term investment strategy, which involves buying stakes in companies that are cheap and have lost the favor of investors, but still have strong prospects for the future and strong fundamentals. He founded his international equity fund, Platinum Asset Management in 1994 with initial backing from business magnate and investor George Soros.
Staying put with his investment strategy, Kerr increased his stake in Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) by 4% during the fourth quarter. The position comprising 11.99 million shares valued at $434.97 million at the end of 2014, formed 8.32% of his fund’s portfolio value. The manufacturer of integrated digital technology platforms also caught the eye of Cliff Asness of AQR Capital Management, who increased his stake by a significant 30% during the same quarter. His fund disclosed owning about 9.8 million shares valued at $356.78 million at the end of the fourth quarter.
Although down 8.3% year-to-date, Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is up nearly 37.5% during the last 52 weeks. The company’s earnings per share (EPS) of $0.74 for the fourth quarter was well ahead of the estimated $0.66, primarily because of a lower tax rate due to the reenactment of the US R&D tax credit. The main focus of Intel’s management for 2015 is to make their Mobile and Communications group profitable. The segment registered $1.1 billion in losses in the fourth quarter.
Carnival Corp (NYSE:CCL) was Kerr’s second-largest holding. He increased his position by 33% and owned 9.48 million shares valued at $429.77 million at the end of the calendar year. The stake constituted 8.22% of the fund’s portfolio value. Sandy Nairn of Edinburgh Partners is also a prominent stakeholder of the cruise company. His stake which comprises of 2.87 million shares valued at $131.25 million formed 14.23 of Edinburgh’s portfolio value. Up about 7.5% during the last 52 weeks, Carnival Corp (NYSE:CCL) will benefit greatly from the dip in oil prices. The stock is currently trading at a forward earnings multiple of 13.36.
The third largest stake in Platinum’s portfolio was occupied by Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU). Kerr slightly increased his exposure by 2% in the Chinese-language internet search provider. He owned about 1.23 million shares valued at $280.15 million at the end of the quarter. Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) was also a popular choice among other hedge funds, including Stephen Mandel‘s Lone Pine Capital and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management. Mandel’s stake in the company amounted to 7.03 million shares valued at $1.6 billion while Laffont had 2.95 million shares valued at $672.69 million in his possession.
Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU)’s shares are up nearly 18% over the last calendar year. Since the company missed its fourth quarter revenue estimates and management provided weak guidance for 2015, Baidu is down 9.6% year-to-date.
Even after a significant 17% reduction in the position, Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) was the fourth largest holding of Nielsen’s. The investment manager held 15.79 million shares valued at $249.28 million of the manufacturer of lightweight metals. William B. Gray’s Orbis Investment Management and First Pacific Advisors’ Robert Rodriguez and Steven Romick also held significant stakes in Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) at the end of the fourth quarter. Orbis held a total of 22.62 million shares valued at $357 million while First Pacific Advisors had 22.04 million shares having a market value of $347.97 in its portfolio.
eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) was also a favorite of Kerr’s during the fourth quarter. He increased his exposure to the company by 13% during that time, with the new stake of about 4.07 million shares valued at $228 million accounting for 4.37% of Platinum’s portfolio value. eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) also commanded the allegiance of Baupost Group’s Seth Klarman, who increased his stake by a significant 53%. His fund owned 9.32 million shares valued at $522.76 million at the end of last year. eBay has also been one of the stocks that other billionaires among the 59 that we track at Insider Monkey have poured a significant amount of funds into as of the end of the year.
eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) is set to spin-off its payment division, PayPal, this year, a move that activist investor Carl Icahn of Icahn Capital LP had advocated months before the actual decision, but which management of the company fought him on before finally relenting.