In the past 30 years, the hedge fund industry has shown phenomenal growth. Initially formed as true “hedges” against conventional investing, they morphed into vehicles for hedge fund portfolio managers to deliver higher alpha to investors, specifically high net worth investors. Alpha takes the volatility or price risk of an investment vehicle like a mutual fund and compares its risk-adjusted return to a benchmark index like the S&P 500. If the fund is up 15% and the S&P 500 is up 10%, the 5% difference is the alpha. We researched some of the top-performing hedge funds to find what they were buying in an effort to deliver outsized alpha to their investors.
Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY) is the top holding in Jim Simons’s Medallion hedge fund. The company’s second-quarter earnings were well ahead of the Wall Street estimates. It also raised its full-year guidance by a very strong 5% on the back of strong sales gains in its key drugs like Cymbalta, which grew 22% in the quarter. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is $58.50, and investors are paid a very solid 3.6% dividend.
Charter Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) is one of the top equity holdings in the portfolio of George Soros. Legendary media investor John Malone recently acquired a 27% stake in Charter, and the merger and takeover rumors are rampant. The consensus price target for this extremely debt-laden stock is $125.
Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is the top holding in Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors fund. The company is the third largest wireless carrier in the United States, and it announced a mixed set of second-quarter results July 30, as wireless service revenues rose to an all-time high of $7.2 billion on increased data demand. However, subscriber losses mounted as the legacy iDEN network was finally shut down. The consensus price target for the stock is at $7.
General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is one of the top holdings in David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital. The company has been operating smoothly the past few quarters as sales have been strong. As General Motors basically has fulfilled its obligations to repay its bailout, perhaps a dividend will appear in the future. The consensus price target for the stock is at $45.
United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) is one of the top holdings in David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management portfolio. Tepper has had market-moving commentary numerous times when he has appeared on CNBC. Airline stocks have found their way into many top fund managers’ portfolios. The consensus price objective for the stocks sits at $37.
HCA Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HCA) is a top holdings in Traxis Partners, the hedge fund started by the late Wall Street legend Barton Biggs, who died in July. HCA just recently has affirmed its full-year 2013 guidance. The company expects to generate around $3.00 to $3.30 in adjusted earnings per share (EPS) while producing around $33.5 billion to $34.5 billion in revenue. The consensus price target for the stock is at $46.
Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE: PXD) is a top holding in T. Boone Pickens’s BP Capital. Revenue rose 29% from a year ago to $1.18 billion, and earnings jumped to $337.3 million. Excluding gains on derivatives and other one-time items, earnings were $1.10 per share, which was a penny short of estimates. But the revenue figure easily topped the $900.9 million analysts expected. The consensus price objective for the stock is $173.50, which is below current trading levels.
American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) is one of the top stocks in Dan Loeb’s Third Point hedge fund. Loeb also recently sold a large position in Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), which was a huge winner for the fund. The consensus price target for AIG is $50, and investors are paid a small 0.8% dividend.
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (NYSE: CP) was a huge winner for Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Management. Even though the activist investor lowered his stake after the stock tripled, it still resides in the portfolio. The consensus price target is at $135.50, and shareholders are paid a 1.1% dividend.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is the top holding in Tiger Management’s portfolio, the fund started years ago by hedge fund legend Julian Robertson. Though Robertson has long since retired and no longer manages money, Tiger Management still exists to invest money for Robertson’s family and a few outsiders. The consensus price target for Google is $998, and the stock seems like a sure bet to join the $1,000 per share club.
Some hot-shot hedge fund managers have been the talk of Wall Street one year and end up going down in flames the next. We wanted to highlight top names from the top managers who have been around, and who odds say will stay around for some time to come. Obviously none of the stocks are conspicuously risky, but owning the top names the top managers own always has been a solid way to invest.