Practical analysis for investment professionals

David Einhorn


13F Watch: In Defense of Active Share

The poor performance of active management has been well chronicled of late but the active fund management industry is not going down without a fight. Apologists have been quick to point to artificially low interest rates as one factor dragging down the collective returns of stock pickers. Index huggers — those managers with low tracking error funds and almost no hope of outperforming their benchmark after fees — are also to blame. In response, active managers are pointing to their “active share” — a measure of how much a portfolio’s holdings differ from those of its benchmark — and research that suggests funds with the highest active share do indeed beat their benchmarks. A review of just-filed quarterly 13F reports reveals that some of the most prominent fund managers truly embrace their role as active portfolio managers.

13F Watch: Shareholder Activism Pays

When compared to the hedge fund industry at large, activist investors have garnered a disproportionate share of the headlines this year, and for good reason: they’ve been busy — launching 148 activist campaigns in the first half of 2014 alone — and they continue to outperform their hedge fund peers.

13F Watch: Activist Investors Fill the Void

Thanks to a bull market and strong relative returns, assets under management for activist investors have swelled — tripling in just the last five years — allowing these high profile fund managers to launch more campaigns and take on bigger companies.

13F Watch: Rising Profile for Activist Investors

Activist investors have significantly raised their profiles in recent years. According to Activist Insight, there were 237 activist campaigns launched in 2013, up from less than 30 in 2000. And while activists used to fly mostly under the radar, many have now embraced new media platforms as a way to make their cases heard.

13F Watch: Buffett Buys Exxon Mobil, Ackman and Berkowitz Target Fannie and Freddie

The latest quarterly filings show that fund managers as a group increased their technology exposure while trimming consumer staples and financials.

13F Watch: Managers Add Financials and Trim Energy as Hedge Funds Remain under Fire

In the second quarter of 2013, institutional investors added to their equity holdings in the financial sector while reducing their exposure to energy stocks. Among the most widely held stocks, portfolio managers as a group added to positions in Microsoft, General Motors, Cisco, and Intel, and trimmed positions in Pfizer, Oracle, General Electric, and AT&T.

13F Watch: Funds Add Health Care and Trim Technology as Activists Take Center Stage

In the first quarter of 2013, institutional investors added to their equity holdings in the healthcare sector while reducing their exposure to the technology stocks. Among the most widely held stocks, portfolio managers as a group added to positions in Citigroup (C), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Microsoft (MSFT), and BlackRock (BLK), and trimmed positions in Apple (AAPL), Oracle (ORCL), Pfizer (PFE), and Coca-Cola (KO).

13F Watch: Bullish on Consumer Staples and Health Care Stocks, Bearish on Technology and Energy

Based on a review of the aggregate filings for the second quarter of 2012, institutional investors added to their holdings in consumer staples and health care stocks while reducing their exposure to the technology and energy sectors.