There doesn’t appear to be much consensus right now as to where the market is headed, and even billionaire investors seem to be at odds as to what’s to come.
In his first quarter letter to investors, Lone Pine Capital founder Steve Mandel called an impending and undefined interest rate hike an “investment conundrum.” Leon Cooperman, on the other hand, has basically said an increase is no big deal.
David Einhorn laid out a major case against fracking companies and specifically pinpointed Pioneer Natural Resources at the Sohn Investment Conference in May. In the first quarter of the year, fellow billionaires Seth Klarman, Jorge Lemann and Ray Dalio bought the stock.
Of course, not all great minds think alike — even (and perhaps especially) on Wall Street.
There are, however, a couple of trends that can be pinpointed across numerous billionaire investors and hedge fund managers, revealed in their latest regulatory holdings disclosures corresponding to the first quarter of 2015.
Billionaires have been bulking up on health care for a while and continue to do so in 2015. According to Novus, hedge funds increased their long exposure to health care to $289.67 billion during the first three months of the year.
Larry Robbins of Glenview Capital has been leading the charge on the health care front. The sector comprises more than one third of his public equity portfolio, including companies like Thermo Fisher Scientific, Humana and Anthem, and drove much of his flagship hedge fund’s 14.4% net return and the Glenview Opportunity Fund’s 25% climb.
In a May interview with Bloomberg, Robbins discussed his take on what’s to come in health care. He said he sees a “fundamentally healthy outlook” for HMOs for 2015 and beyond and talked about his continued bet on the rollout of Obamacare.
Robbins has also invested in Actavis, which has proven especially popular among billionaire investors. The pharmaceutical company, which completed the acquisition of Botox maker Allergan in March, is one a number of Wall Street heavyweights like.
Dan Loeb, John Paulson, Julian Robertson, Bill Ackman, Steve Mandel and George Soros have stakes in Actavis. And Leon Cooperman appears to be an especially big fan — the company is his top position as of the end of the first quarter, and he said at the Sohn Investment Conference in early May that he believed it had a projectable 15% growth rate.
While Steve Mandel may not be loving everything about interest rate uncertainty, he acknowledged in his latest quarterly letter to investors that the current environment has lent itself well to merger and acquisition activity. And in his portfolio – and in those of other billionaires – are a handful of interesting M&A players.
In the first quarter of 2015, Mandel increased his stake in Charter Communications, which announced in late May an agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable for $55 billion. Warren Buffett and Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global have positions in Charter as well.
Time Warner has proven a hot commodity in M&A. In 2014, Comcast revealed its own plans to purchase the company but ultimately canceled the transaction earlier this year. Charter shareholders — and executives — are hoping for a different outcome this time around. TWC investors, including John Paulson, Jorge Lemann, Robbins and Cooperman, are likely hopeful as well.
In the M&A arena (as well as health care), Steve Mandel also likes Valeant – and he’s not the only one. Ackman is a big fan of the pharmaceutical giant, which is his top position as of the end of the first quarter and which he has said could be the next Berkshire Hathaway.
Valeant completed the acquisition of Salix on April 1 and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Company CEO Michael Pearson admitted in a May 21 interview with Bloomberg Canada that M&A activity in the health care sector was a “bit of a bubble.” However, he also assured that his company is “consistently looking for good deals.”