$10 Billion Fund Bullish on This ‘Fab Four’

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Orbis Investment Management has a $10 billion 13F portfolio managed by William Gray. The firm invests in value stocks using contrarian ideals mixed with a fundamental analysis of each company, in combination with a top-down stock picking approach. Judging by the largest positions in the fund, we can see favorable economic trends first, company fundamentals second quite clearly. Orbis seems to follow a strategy of narrowing down certain sectors of the economy, such as healthcare and natural resources, and finding the companies within those sectors poised to outperform.

It’s always important to track hedge fund sentiment for its clear market-beating potential; learn more about this strategy. Let’s look at the four biggest multi-quarter positions in this fund’s 13F portfolio, meaning Orbis has held these stocks for more than just one quarter. The hedge fund has held each of these stocks in its portfolio since we at Insider Monkey began tracking it in the second quarter of last year.

Numero uno

First is NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES), with over 20 million shares in the Orbis equity portfolio. The China-based Internet technology company has evolved into more of an online gaming operator, and the move has paid off very well. Revenues have grown 118% since 2009, and Q4 earnings were up 12% from the same period a year ago. The company’s metrics are also positive with a trailing P/E at 12x compared to 27x for the sector. Since the first of the year, the stock has appreciated by 30% and the stock could keep climbing, especially after Bank of America raised its price target for NetEase from $56.00 to $61.00, largely due to the expectation that revenue from in-house games will increase to 70% from earlier forecasts of 67%.

The best of the rest

At number two is Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU). The manufacturer of memory technologies, including NAND flash and NOR Flash memory, recently entered into a multi-year technology development and IP licensing agreement with Intermolecular. The arrangement will partner Micron’s advanced memory solutions with Intermolecular’s work with R&D efficiency in the semiconductor and clean energy industries. Shares of Intermolecular jumped 13% on the news while Micron shares rose 4%. The collaboration with Intermolecular followed Micron’s announcement a few weeks earlier that Micron developed a disruptive memory computing solution, which lifted the price of Micron by 3%. The combination of the two helped to offset weak earnings from Micron in which the company reported negative earnings for all of 2012.

The third largest multi-quarter holding—the fourth largest in Orbis’s overall equity portfolio behind new pick American International Group—is WellPoint (NYSE: WLP), with 11.6 million shares. Wellpoint is the second-biggest US health care insurer, providing network-based managed care plans to a variety of markets, including Medicaid and senior markets.

Of course, you can hardly talk about a health-care provider without mentioning the Affordable Care Act. Health care providers will now face increased regulatory scrutiny and price controls, which could hamstring revenue growth. And Wellpoint is no stranger to inciting regulatory ire. WellPoint’s recent 10.5% rate hikes in California have been called “excessive” and “unreasonable” by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, and the attempt to raise rates in 2010 by as much as 39% on individuals in California resulted in the resignation of CEO Angela Braly when the company was criticized by the Obama Administration over the size of the rate hike. Fortunately this hasn’t seemed to deter demand for the stock. WellPoint is up 16% for the year.

The hedgie’s fourth largest multi-quarter pick is Weatherford International (NYSE: WFT). As oil prices slump, so do share prices of oil exploration, drilling and refining companies. Unfortunately, Weatherford provides the equipment and services for all of these. So it comes as little surprise that the company has pulled back from its 2013 high by 10%. With competition from larger companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton, which are much better positioned for larger projects, Weatherford is unable to capitalize on increased production in offshore oil.

Final thoughts

With large positions in healthcare and oil producers, Orbis obviously faces some challenges this year. This could result in a lackluster performance by the fund, especially if stocks like Weatherford and Micron start to head into negative territory on cheap commodity prices and disappointing earnings, so we’ll be watching the fund’s equity portfolio very closely and you can too.


This article is written by Amy Thielen and edited by Jake Mann. Insider Monkey's Editor-in-Chief is Meena Krishnamsetty. Meena has a long position in HAL.  The Motley Fool recommends NetEase.com and WellPoint. The Motley Fool owns shares of WellPoint. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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