Scrutinizing George Soros’ Lastest Moves

He bought some Facebook and gold, and sold all his financials

   

Watching the portfolio comings and goings of the world’s most famous hedge funds or investment managers is almost considered a sport among investors.

The Securities & Exchange Commission makes it easy to do because fund managers are required to submit detailed reports within 45 days after the close of a quarter. These filings provide a window on the group’s equity holdings only, not bond or options positions.

Forty-five days after the last quarter ended means Tuesday, Aug. 14. So, the word is out on the positions of such big-name investors as Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A BRK.B) and George Soros and his Soros Fund Management.

Both filings provide interesting reading, with Berkshire’s moves including unloading its entire stake in Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and lowering positions in Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Proctor & Gamble (NYSE:PG).

Soros’ moves are equally interesting, both for what was bought and what was sold.

Start with the former: Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Yes, that Facebook. Sometime during the second quarter, Soros shelled out (yes, that’s a bit of a stretch given the fund’s $25 billion value) enough money to buy up roughly 341,000 shares, valued at $10.6 million on June 30. Today’s value: roughly $6.8 million, give or take a few dollars for broker commissions (kidding).

I’m not sure why Soros bought in, or what he sees that many others don’t, but he isn’t alone. According to Bloomberg, Steven A. Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors owns 151,450 shares, while Moore Capital Management owns a meager 15,000 shares. These guys are nobody’s fools, so I suppose I should be concerned that I missed something. But I’m not, at least not yet. I’m with my colleague Tom Taulli on this one.

Now for the latter: Soros got out of financials — not just piecemeal, but the whole enchilada. He sold his entire positions in Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Citigroup (NYSE:C), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Regions Financial (NYSE:RF) and Fifth Third Bank (NASDAQ:FITB).

Nobody invited me to the meetings, but I suspect Soros and his group have some long-term concerns about the overall health and perception of this nerve-racking industry. Pick your poison: continued portfolio worries, bad press, even worse behavior, or regulatory scrutiny. Whatever the reason(s), Soros wanted out.

Back on the buy side, Soros increased his holdings in gold through a purchase of 884,000 shares in SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSE:GLD). At $137 million, it’s still only about 2% of the portfolio, but Soros was out of gold altogether a number of years ago, so perhaps he values the metal as a hedge (or maybe he needed some bling for his new fiancee).

Whatever you think of these major moves, not to worry: The fund is still highly diversified, with holdings of over $100 million in companies like GE (NYSE:GE), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Netapp (NASDAQ:NTAP).

So, we shall see what happens next. With the third quarter wrapping up on Sept. 30, we can check back on Nov. 15 to update the latest round of buys, sells and scrutiny.

Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he is long INTC, GE and  JNJ.


Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, http://investorplace.com/2012/08/soros-moves-provide-comfort-and-questions-fb-gs-c-wfc-jpm-rf/.

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