North Carolina-based activist hedge fund Shah Capital Management recently disclosed its U.S equity portfolio as of the end of March, via a 13F filing submitted with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Shah Capital Management was founded in 2005 by Himanshu H. Shah, an ex-Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager at UBS, and focuses primarily on special situations and deep value investing. According to the fund’s latest filing, its U.S equity portfolio was worth $119.34 million at the end of March and consisted of 13 long positions. The filing also revealed that during the first quarter, the fund added two stocks to its concentrated portfolio and sold out of its position in one holding. Since Shah Capital Management primarily invests in small and mid-cap stocks, we will take a look at its top five small and mid-cap holdings as of March 31.
We track prominent investors and hedge funds because our research has shown that historically their stock picks delivered superior risk-adjusted returns. This is especially true in the small-cap space. The 15 most popular small-cap stocks among a select group of investors delivered a monthly alpha of 80 basis points between 1999 and 2012 (see the details here).
#5 VimpelCom Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:VIP)
– Shares Owned by Shah Capital Management (as of March 31): 886,995
– Value of Holding (as of March 31): $3.78 million
First up is VimpelCom Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:VIP), in which Shah Capital Management reduced its holding by 2% during the first quarter. Though shares of VimpelCom Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:VIP) have rallied by almost 17% so far this year, they are still trading near the same levels they were around time that Shah Capital Management initiated its stake in the company, during the final quarter of 2014. In February the company settled a probe with the SEC and regulators in the Netherlands, concerning its business dealings in Uzbekistan. As part of the settlement, VimpelCom agreed to pay $795 million while its Uzbekistan subsidiary Unitel entered a guilty plea with the U.S Justice Department. VimpelCom and CK Hutchison Holdings announced a merger of their respective Italian subsidiaries, Wind Telecomunicazioni and 3 Italia, last August. However, this merger has come under intense scrutiny from European regulators of late, forcing the companies to extend the timeline for the merger. John W. Moon‘s Moon Capital almost doubled its stake in VimpelCom to 3.25 million shares during the final quarter of 2015.
#4 Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL)
– Shares Owned by Shah Capital Management (as of March 31): 1.45 million
– Value of Holding (as of March 31): $4.78 million
Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL) was one of the new additions to Shah Capital Management’s equity portfolio during the first quarter. Owing largely to the oil rout, the offshore drilling company has lost 90% of its market capitalization since November 2015. However, the stock saw a big spike in March after rumors started floating around that the company’s Chairman and President, Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen, was raising cash to fund a restructuring of the company. Thanks to that spike, Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL)’s stock is currently trading up by over 40% year-to-date. On April 28, the company announced that it has sold its remaining 8.2% stake in Malaysian oilfield service company SapuraKencana for approximately $195 million. According to the company’s press release, the proceeds from the sale will be provide additional liquidity and be used for general corporate purposes. On April 24, analysts at Canaccord Genuity reiterated their ‘Sell’ rating on the stock. With ownership of nearly 5.00 million shares of the company, Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke and John Campbell’s Arrowstreet Capital was the largest shareholder of Seadrill Ltd among the funds in our system at the end of 2015.
Shah Capital Management’s top three small and mid-cap holdings are analyzed on the next page.
#3 Genworth Financial Inc (NYSE:GNW)
– Shares Owned by Shah Capital Management (as of March 31): 4.7 million
– Value of Holding (as of March 31): $12.81 million
Moving on, Shah Capital Management upped its stake in Genworth Financial Inc (NYSE:GNW) by 50% during the first quarter. Genworth Financial’s stock spiked by over 20% on April 29 after the company reported its first quarter financial results. However, despite that spike, it is still trading down by 8.53% year-to-date. While the Street had expected the company to report EPS of $0.18 on revenue of $2.15 billion for the quarter, Genworth Financial pulled in EPS of $0.21 on revenue of $1.79 billion. The company’s earnings during the quarter were affected by litigation settlement and legal expenses of $54 million, or $0.11 per share. For the same quarter of the previous financial year, Genworth Financial delivered EPS of $0.31 on revenue of $2.33 billion. Following the latest earnings release, analysts at BTIG Research reiterated their ‘Buy’ rating on the stock. Richard S. Pzena‘s Pzena Investment Management increased its stake in Genworth Financial Inc (NYSE:GNW) by 7% to 8.17 million shares during the fourth quarter.
#2 Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE:AVP)
– Shares Owned by Shah Capital Management (as of March 31): 2.8 million
– Value of Holding (as of March 31): $13.46 million
Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE:AVP) was the other new addition to Shah Capital Management’s equity portfolio during the first quarter. Shares of the beauty products company have been on a gradual rise since mid-January of this year and are currently trading up by over 15% year-to-date. However, Piper Jaffray analyst Stephanie Wissink believes that the stock has limited upside potential from here. On April 12, Ms. Wissink released a note in which she downgraded Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE:AVP)’s stock to ‘Neutral’ from ‘Overweight’ while maintaining her $5 price target on it. In her note, Ms. Wissink also stated that the stock is ‘fairly valued’ at current levels and that the company will need time to extrapolate value from its new initiatives. Shares currently trade hands at $4.71 each.
In March, Avon announced that it had reached a deal with activist investors Barington Capital Group and NuOrion Partners. Under the terms of the deal, Barington Capital agreed to withdraw its nominatee for election to Avon’s Board of Directors at the Company’s 2016 Annual Meeting in exchange for a right to approve the appointment of a company-appointed nominee. Paul Cantor, Joseph Weiss, and Will Wurm‘s Beech Hill Partners increased its stake in Avon Products, Inc. by 20% to 58,100 shares during the first quarter.
#1 Coeur Mining Inc (NYSE:CDE)
– Shares Owned by Shah Capital Management (as of March 31): 3.11 million
– Value of Holding (as of March 31): $17.51 million
The rally in gold and commodity prices in the past couple of months has boosted the stock price of several gold mining companies this year. One of the major beneficiaries of this rally has been Coeur Mining Inc (NYSE:CDE), whose stock ended the first quarter up by 127% and currently boasts year-to-date gains of a stunning 226%, proving to be a huge winner for Mr. Shah’s firm. Coeur Mining Inc (NYSE:CDE) jumped three spots quarter-over-quarter to become Shah Capital Management’s top small/mid-cap stock pick as of March 31 and its second-largest holding overall, despite the fund reducing its stake in the company by 17% during the quarter to take some profits off the table from its large first quarter gains.
Coeur Mining’s stock has appreciated by over 12% in the last two trading sessions alone following the better-than-expected first quarter results that the company released on April 27. While analysts had projected the company to report a loss of $0.16 per share on revenue of $145.74 million for the quarter, Coeur Mining declared a loss of only $0.04 per share on revenue of $148.39 million. Since Coeur Mining is one of the largest producers of silver and silver’s industrial use in the solar sector is projected to grow at a phenomenal pace in the coming years, several analysts have a very bullish view on Coeur Mining’s stock. Precious metals guru Eric Sprott increased his fund Sprott Asset Management’s stake in Coeur Mining by 20% to 305,700 shares during the first quarter.