As individual portfolio managers, or even as independent retail investors, we all have our personal predispositions on how to invest. We bring with us our likes and dislikes about certain investment ideas, and then make investment decisions based on those biases. And that, sometimes, means we make mistakes – and learn. And while creating our personal investment styles through mistakes is a good thing, losing money while learning isn’t all that good!
One way to avoid making costly mistakes – although there is no guarantee of that! – is to learn from what leading investment Gurus are doing, and then apply our own “biases” to validate whether what they do will work for us.
The Soros Investment Philosophy
Without delving too deeply into investment philosophy, one could safely say Soros’s is a type of contrarian one. He is a firm believer that, at the core, financial markets are governed by chaos, and investors need to exploit such chaos to their advantage.
In the early 1990s, while everyone else was betting differently, Soros went against the grain and shorted the British pound. The rest is history, which proved his intuition was right, netting him a cool $1.8 billion from the move.
Operating out of New York, George Soros’s last 13F filing with the SEC, for his Soros Fund Management LLC, gives us an insight into what this billionaire fund manager likes or dislikes. According to filings for the quarter ending Dec 31st, 2017, the Guru has managed securities totaling over $4 billion ($4,371,934,000 to be exact!), with nearly 51% (50.94%) of that wealth tied to his top-10 positions.
So, if you were to mimic a portfolio like that of Mr. Soros, what investments would interest you the most? Well, the portfolio is very well diversified, with investments in companies like Liberty Broadband Corporation (LBRDK), Caesars Entertainment Corporation (CZR), and Altaba Inc. (AABA) showing an appetite for holding investments as different as Internet technologies, Entertainment, gaming and hospitality and Investment management.
While the top-10 holdings do show that Mr. Soros has an appetite for holding investments in a cross-section of sectors, his overall portfolio is much more broadly diversified.
The entire portfolio has over 284 positions, with 88 positions newly established since the previous 13F filing. On an overall portfolio basis, this Guru seems to favor Consumer Cyclicals (46% of entire portfolio) and Financials (21%), with Technology (12%) and Energy (9%) making up close to 90% of his holdings.
So, if you were looking to invest like Soros, what would be some investments that you might wish to step away from? Well, the latest 13F filings offer us a glimpse into that aspect of the Gurus’ mindset as well.
In a prior 13F filing (September 2017), Soros disclosed selling 1,700 Apple Inc (AAPL) shares, while also dumping 1.55 million Snap Inc (SNAP) shares. Facebook (FB) was also out of favor, with the Guru dumping 367,262 of its shares.
According to the most recent SEC filing (December 2017), Guru Soros has exited holdings in names like Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Mondelez International Inc (MDLZ), Kraft Heinz Co (KHC), possibly indicating his lack of confidence in the consumer-spending space. Soros has also lightened his holdings in pharma company Zoetis Inc (ZTS), and in technology names like Viavi Solutions Inc. (VIAV).
So, does this mean you should mimic every buy/sell move that the Gurus make? Not at all! You need to use discretion and diligence when investing for yourself. For instance, a look at the 3-month chart of VIAV above shows how well the stock has performed (up 14.36%) since Soros exited his position – proving that even Gurus can get it wrong sometimes!
Author does not own nay of the stocks discussed in the article.
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