As we concluded the latest round of 13F filings, we have compiled a lot of data related to the long equity positions held by over 730 funds that we track. Among other things, we have identified which stocks are the most popular among billionaires. This is interesting because these moguls of investing made their money by wisely picking stocks that provided them with great returns over the years. In this article we will discuss the top five financial stocks that billionaires like, among which are credit card companies like Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA), and big banks like Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) and Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC).
On the first spot is Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA), in which 15 billionaires reported long positions as of the end of December. These investors owned a total of $3.86 billon worth of the company’s stock. Among the billionaires holding the stock is Warren Buffett, with his fund Berkshire Hathaway reporting ownership of 5.40 million shares, up by 15% over the previous quarter. Among others, Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies, Ken Griffin of Citadel Advisors, and Israel Englander of Millennium Management are among Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA)’s shareholders.
Moreover, if we look at the overall data, we can see that Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) was also one of the top picks among all funds that we track, with 91 of them disclosing the stock in their 13F filings. During the last three months of 2014, the number of funds holding the stock went up by 10 and their aggregate position surged to $8.37 billion from $7.10 billion in the previous quarter.
There are several factors that can explain the increase of Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA)’s popularity among investors. The stock appreciated by 18% over the last 52 weeks and recently the company raised its quarterly dividend to $0.16 per share from $0.11. In addition, as the company went through the holiday season it reported better than expected financial results. For the fourth quarter its net income went up to $0.69 per share from $0.52 per share a year earlier and managed to beat the consensus estimate of $0.67 per share. The revenue appreciated by an annual 14% to $2.42 billion and came above the estimate of $2.39 billion.
Mastercard is sharing its leading position as the favorite financial stock among billionaires with another credit card company, Visa Inc (NYSE:V). A total of 15 billionaires reported holding some $3.08 billion worth of the company’s stock. Among the funds that we track, billionaires Ken Fisher of Fisher Asset Management and Warren Buffett are the largest shareholders of Visa Inc (NYSE:V), owning 3.56 million shares and 2.51 million shares respectively. Among all 737 funds in our database, a total of 88 funds disclosed holding the stock in their equity portfolios at the end of the fourth quarter of last year, versus 80 funds in the previous quarter. The value of all shares held by these funds amounted to $6.77 billion at the end of 2014.
Similar to Mastercard, Visa Inc (NYSE:V) also benefited from an increase in spending during the holiday season, reporting better-than-expected financial results. The company’s earnings per share (EPS) advanced to $2.53 from $2.20 in the previous year and revenue grew to $3.38 billion from $3.16 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $2.59 per share and revenue of $3.34 billion. Moreover, the company announced a four-for-one stock split, which will make the stock cheaper for investors, but will also reduce the stock’s impact on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.