Looking for investment ideas? One approach is to mimic the decisions of the world’s best money managers. This is made possible because of changes in regulations, which require quarterly portfolio disclosures with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
And yes, this week we got the latest reports. Now, keep in mind that they are as of June 30. In other words, they do not reflect the recent market carnage.
But this should not be a big deal — that is, if you have a long-term focus.
Let’s take a look at some interesting positions:
David Einhorn, who operates Greenlight Capital, purchased 5.75 million shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). This takes his equity stake to 14.8 million.
Even though Microsoft is more than 30 years old, it continues to dominate key markets like server software, operating systems and productivity applications. Of course, these all generate substantial cash flows. This means strong share buybacks and growing dividends. In fact, Microsoft is now yielding 2.5%.
While the company has lagged in the mobile market, there are signs of hope. Windows Phone 7 is gaining momentum, and the company’s relationship with Nokia (NYSE:NOK) should provide a much wider distribution.
Interestingly enough, Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) could be a nice boost for Microsoft. Android licensees might now be motivated to move over to alternative operating systems.
El Paso Corp.
Speaking of Motorola, Carl Icahn is the company’s largest shareholder. And on the Google deal, he made more than $470 million.
But of course, Icahn always is looking for more ways to make money. To this end, he has taken 7.6% stake in El Paso Corp. (NYSE:EP). Icahn certainly lives by the motto of “go big or go home.”
El Paso operates the largest interstate gas pipeline in the United States. It’s certainly a source of juicy cash flows.
El Paso also has a strong oil and gas exploration business, which has operations in the U.S. and Brazil. Keep in mind that the company plans to have a spin-off of this segment to shareholders. It’s the kind of financial engineering that usually attracts an investor like Icahn.
Dollar General operates about 9,500 discount stores across the U.S. Basically, the company has been streamlining its operations and lowering its cost structure.
However, the main growth driver still will be the weak economy, which is likely to remain the situation for some time.
Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, who manages $85 billion, actually was able to generate positive returns during the recent market correction. A key was buying gold and Treasuries.
But Dalio also is a savvy stock picker. In the latest quarter, he increased his stake in General Electric (NYSE:GE) by 26%, making it Bridgewater’s No. 6 holding.
The company looks like a great value, with a price-to-earnings ratio of 12, and it also has a dividend yield of 3.8%.
More importantly, GE has the scale to benefit from some of the biggest global growth trends, such as health care, infrastructure development, energy and transportation.
Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including “All About Commodities” and “All About Short Selling.” You can find him at Twitter account @ttaulli. He does not own a position in any of the stocks named here.