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Store Capital Corp, Tribune Media Co, Star Bulk Carriers Corp: Billionaire Howard Marks’ Top Picks

Tribune Media Co (NYSE:TRCO) is Marks’ second new position, with him reporting ownership of 18.77 million shares at the end of 2014, which has since been raised slightly to 18.79 million shares, per a February 13 filing. Tribune’s swan dive of 33% from the middle of July to the middle of October, in the midst of spinning off its publishing arm into a separate business, created the perfect opportunity for investors to get in on the now-streamlined television and digital entertainment business at its lowest levels since mid-2013.

Tribune Media (TRCO)

Marks’ investment made him the largest shareholder of Tribune Media among institutional investors at the close of 2014. Numerous other funds were bullish on Tribune Media, which counts WGN America and Sharenote as some of its brands, during the previous quarter. Angelo Gordon & Co. and Clifton S. Robbins’ Blue Harbour Group were two such funds, initiating 8.98 million and 3.12 million share stakes respectively. Shares of Tribune Media are up 6.27% year-to-date. 

Star Bulk Carriers Corp (NASDAQ:SBLK) is an old favorite of Marks’, dating back to the third quarter of 2013. However it wasn’t until a year later that Marks became extremely bullish on the prospects for the global shipping company, which boasts a fleet of 101 vessels, with an aggregate capacity of 11.9 million deadweight tonnage (dwt).

In the third quarter of 2014, he purchased more than 45 million shares, taking an activist position in the company. He closed 2014 with the same 51.23 million shares he held at the end of the third quarter, but has since added even further to the position in 2015, disclosing the addition of another 30.90 million shares in the middle of January, bringing his total to 82.15 million shares, a 51.9% stake in Star Bulk.

The latest move followed a disastrous fourth quarter for Star Bulk shares, as they fell 41%, which has only been exacerbated by a further 32.77% tumble in 2015. The collapse comes amid dry bulk shipping rates plumetting to historic lows, a situation which has already led to the bankruptcy of three other bulk shipping companies. In an effort to mitigate some of their woes, Star Bulk and four other shipping companies struck an accord earlier this month that will see them form a new company called Capesize Chartering Limited to oversee and better coordinate the efforts of the five carriers.

Disclosure: None

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