30 Top Stock Picks That Billionaires Love
Billionaire investors were busy at the start of 2021. Here are 30 companies, of various shapes and sizes, that were some of their top stock picks in the first quarter.
It's always interesting to see what billionaire investors are doing with their money. Sure, you can't match their gains simply by copying every single one of their stock picks, but it can still be helpful (and fruitful) to know what they've been up to.
Consider that the billionaires, hedge funds and big-time advisories listed below have a great deal at stake. And their resources for research, as well as their intimate connections to insiders and others, can give them unique insight into their stock picks.
Studying which stocks they're chasing with their capital (or which stocks the billionaires are selling off, for that matter) can be an edifying exercise for retail investors.
After all, there's a reason the rich get richer.
Here are 30 of the most recent top stock picks from the billionaire class. In each case, at least one billionaire – be it a person, hedge fund or advisory – has a substantial stake and/or added to its holdings. In most cases, these stocks are owned by multiple billionaire investors and billionaire investor firms. And while several of these investments are popular blue chips, others keep a much lower profile.
Either way, the smart money isn't kidding around when it comes to these stock picks.
Prices are as of May 28. Data is courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence, WhaleWisdom.com and regulatory filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Stocks are ranked in reverse order of their weight in the selected billionaire investor's equity portfolio.
- Market value: $400.0 billion
- Billionaire investor: Ray Dalio (Bridgewater Associates)
- Percent of portfolio: 4.3%
Ordinarily, we look for stocks that account for at least 5% of a billionaire investor's portfolio before including them on this list, but Bridgewater Associates' interest in Walmart (WMT, $142.03) is sort of a special case.
Legendary investor Ray Dalio's massive hedge fund – it has $223 billion in assets under management (AUM) – has nearly 11% of its portfolio sitting in an S&P 500 index fund. Indeed, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), with its 0.0945% expense ratio, is Bridgewater's largest holding.
The fund's second-largest holding is also an ETF. The Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) accounts for 5.1% of the hedge fund's total portfolio value.
So it's something of a feather in Walmart's cap that the world's largest retailer and Dow Jones Industrial Average component happens to be tops among Dalio's actual stock picks.
Indeed, in the first quarter of 2021, Bridgewater upped its WMT stake by 16%, or 512,347 shares. The total stake of 3.6 million shares, worth $487.8 million at the end of Q1, now accounts for 4.3% of Bridgewater's total portfolio value.
Note well that Dalio, whose net worth is estimated at $20.3 billion, according to Forbes, is a big fan of Dow stocks and ETFs. In addition to WMT at No. 3, Bridegwater's top 10 holdings include stakes in Procter & Gamble (PG), Coca-Cola (KO) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), as well as the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) and the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG).
- Market value: $1.6 trillion
- Billionaire investor: Stephen Mandel (Lone Pine Capital)
- Percent of portfolio: 5.4%
Hedge-fund legend Stephen Mandel stepped back from managing investments at Lone Pine Capital a couple years back, but he remains a managing director at the firm, and it still runs very much in his image.
That's probably a good thing, given that Mandel's investing acumen allowed him to accumulate a net worth of nearly $4 billion, per Forbes.
Lone Pine – based in the hedge-fund capital of the world, Greenwich, Connecticut – lists more than $27.5 billion in managed securities. Lately, it has been putting more cash to work in big-name technology stocks, and few get higher accolades from Wall Street analysts than Amazon.com (AMZN, $3,223.07).
Indeed, analysts say AMZN is one of the best Nasdaq stocks you can buy, giving it a high conviction consensus recommendation of Strong Buy. That's due in no small part to the fact that they expect Amazon to generate average annual earnings per share growth of almost 35% over the next three to five years – this despite the fact that the e-commerce giant is already a $1.6 trillion company.
Lone Pine upped its bet on AMZN by 87%, or 224,618 shares, in the first quarter, bringing its total holdings to 481,744 shares. That stake, which was worth $1.5 billion at the end of Q1, accounts for 5.4% of Lone Pine's total portfolio value, making it fifth among the hedge fund's stock picks.
- Market value: $182.7 billion
- Billionaire investor: Tran Capital Management
- Percent of portfolio: 5.4%
Tran Capital Management, a hedge fund based in San Rafael, California, is incrementally more bullish on the life sciences industry.
Tran, with $1.1 billion in AUM, added 2,001 shares to its stake in Danaher (DHR, $256.14), which makes a variety of instruments and diagnostics equipment to support medical, industrial and commercial processes.
Tran now holds a total of 267,376 shares, which were worth $60.1 million at the end of Q1. The DHR stake is Tran's fourth-largest holding, accounting for 5.4% of its stock portfolio value. The hedge fund has been an investor in DHR since the first quarter of 2014, though even with the latest purchase, it still currently owns just 0.04% of the company's shares outstanding.
The Street is likewise bullish on this healthcare name, which stands to benefit from the pharmaceutical industry's ongoing efforts against the novel coronavirus. Indeed, analysts' consensus recommendation on DHR comes to Buy, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
"We believe that Danaher is well positioned to help biopharma companies develop new medicines, including treatments and vaccines for COVID-19," writes Argus Research analyst David Toung, who rates DHR at Buy. "We expect recent strong customer demand to be sustained over the remainder of 2021."
- Market value: $207.3 billion
- Billionaire investor: Polen Capital Management
- Percent of portfolio: 5.6%
So it's kind of neat to see that the hedge fund's fifth-largest position is an income investor's dream.
Abbott Laboratories (ABT, $116.65) is as stalwart a divided payer as they come. It's a member of the S&P Dividend Aristocrats, an index of dividend stocks that have increased their payouts annually for at least 25 consecutive years.
ABT, which manufactures a wide variety of healthcare goods, such as branded generic drugs, medical devices and nutrition and diagnostic products, has hiked its dividend for 49 years and counting. The last increase came in December: a whopping 25% improvement to 45 cents per share.
Polen, a hedge fund based in Boca Raton, Florida, with AUM of more than $46 billion, has owned a stake in ABT since the third quarter of 2019. Most recently, it upped its position by 1%, or 220,118 shares. Polen's total of 20.7 million shares was worth $2.5 billion at the end of Q1, and accounted for 5.6% of its portfolio value.
Importantly, Polen owns 1.2% of Abbott Lab's shares outstanding, putting it among the company's 15 largest investors.
- Market value: $388.7 billion
- Billionaire investor: Allen Investment Management
- Percent of portfolio: 5.7%
UnitedHealth Group (UNH, $411.92) is a hedge-fund favorite, and Wall Street gives it high marks too.
As the largest health insurer by both market value and revenue – and a member of the Dow Industrials to boot – UNH is sort of a must-have stock for institutional investors seeking broad exposure to the healthcare sector.
Meanwhile, analysts' consensus recommendation on the name comes to Buy. Of the 27 analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 16 rate UNH at Strong Buy, six say Buy, three have it at Hold and one calls it a Sell.
"With the increase in Covid-19 vaccinations, we expect medical utilization patterns to return to normal levels, while at the same time we anticipate higher utilizations resulting from missed medical visits and delayed electives," writes CFRA Research analyst Sel Hardy, who rates the stock at Strong Buy.
So it's only fitting that Allen Investment Management, a New York hedge fund with $9.3 billion in AUM, upped its stake in UNH by 2%, or 21,086 shares, during the first quarter.
At 5.7% of the portfolio, UNH is the fund's third-largest position, trailing only Allen stock picks Alphabet Class C shares and Facebook. The hedge fund's stake of 990,525 shares was worth $368.5 million at the end of the first quarter.
Gaming and Leisure Properties
- Market value: $10.8 billion
- Billionaire investor: Gates Capital Management
- Percent of portfolio: 6.0%
Gates Capital Management is a fan of one of Wall Street pros' favorite Nasdaq stocks. The New York hedge fund with $3 billion in AUM upped its stake in Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI, $46.36) by 35%, or more than 1 million shares, during the first quarter.
Gates Capital now holds 3.9 million shares in this real estate investment trust (REIT) – a stake worth $165.6 million as of March 31.
Analysts like this casino real estate play thanks to both a snazzy dividend yield and attractive growth prospects coming out of the pandemic. The company, whose properties include the Belle of Baton Rouge and Argosy Casino Riverside in Missouri, collected 100% of its rents in 2020.
Mizuho Securities initiated coverage of Gaming and Leisure Properties at Buy in late March, citing its unique attributes in an industry set to benefit from a recovery in consumer spending and gaming revenue.
"GLPI is the most diversified of the three Gaming REITs, with strong underlying tenant credit and structural lease enhancements, resulting in a lower-risk platform that we believe is under-appreciated by the market," writes Mizuho analyst Haendel St. Juste.
Analysts' consensus recommendation on the name stands at Strong Buy, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
The bull case for GLPI makes it easy to understand why Gates Capital increased its exposure to a stock it first bought back in 2013. The hedge fund holds 1.7% of GLPI's shares outstanding, making it the REIT's 12th largest investor.
- Market value: $91.4 billion
- Billionaire investor: Chris Hohn (TCI Fund Management)
- Percent of portfolio: 6.0%
Activist investor Chris Hohn has made quite a name for himself with The Children's Investment Fund Management – more commonly known as TCI Fund Management. Indeed, the London-based investor has parlayed his many stock picks into a personal net worth of $5.9 billion, per Forbes.
TCI, with more than $34 billion in managed securities, made a handful of moves in Q1, and none was bigger in percentage terms than its doubling down (and then some) on S&P Global (SPGI, $379.47).
Hohn increased the fund's stake in SPGI by 147% – by far its largest addition of the quarter in percentage terms – adding 3.5 million shares. TCI now owns 5.9 million shares in the company behind S&P Global Ratings, S&P Global Market Intelligence and S&P Global Platts.
The stake, worth $2.1 billion at the end of Q1, accounts for 6.0% of TCI's portfolio value, and gives Hohn ownership of 2.4% of S&P's shares outstanding. That makes TCI the company's sixth-largest shareholder.
Although most investors probably know S&P for its majority stake in S&P Dow Jones Indices – which maintains the benchmark S&P 500 index and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average – it's also a central player in corporate and financial analytics, information and research.
Dedicated long-term income investors probably already know that SPGI happens to be a Dividend Aristocrat. The company has increased its dividend annually for nearly half a century.
- Market value: $199.9 billion
- Billionaire investor: Avidity Partners Management
- Percent of portfolio: 6.3%
AbbVie (ABBV, $113.20) was spun off from the above-mentioned Abbott Laboratories in 2013. It too, is a Dividend Aristocrat, having lifted its dividend annually for almost half a century.
Consumers best know the pharma firm for Humira, a blockbuster drug for rheumatoid arthritis that has been approved for numerous other ailments. AbbVie also makes cancer drug Imbruvica, as well as testosterone replacement therapy AndroGel.
Avidity Partners Management, a Dallas hedge fund with AUM of $6.2 billion, focuses primarily on stock picks in the healthcare sector, and it has been a fan of AbbVie since the fourth quarter of 2019. Most recently, it upped its stake in the pharma giant by 53%, or 721,200 shares. Avidity now holds a total of nearly 2.1 million shares in ABBV, worth $225 million at the end of Q1.
At 6.3% of its equity portfolio, AbbVie is Avidity's single largest position. That's up from 4.7% about three months ago.
The Street is a solid fan of ABBV, too. Analysts' consensus recommendation stands at Buy, with 11 Strong Buy ratings, six Buys and five Hold calls. One analyst has a Sell recommendation on the stock.
"AbbVie is developing new growth drivers to help offset slowing sales of Humira, still its largest product by revenue," writes Argus Research analyst David Toung, who rates the stock at Buy. "We expect continued strong growth from the oncology portfolio and newer immunology drugs in 2021."
- Market value: $126.2 billion
- Billionaire investor: Bristol Gate Capital Partners
- Percent of portfolio: 6.3%
Bristol Gate Capital Partners, a Toronto hedge fund with AUM of $1.7 billion, initiated a position in Applied Materials (AMAT, $138.13) in the first quarter.
And what a commitment it was. The new purchase of 783,931 shares, worth $105 million at the end of Q1, vaulted the position to Bristol Gate's top holding, accounting for 6.3% of its portfolio.
Applied Materials, which provides manufacturing equipment and technology to the semiconductor industry, is an allied play on the global chip shortage. Indeed, relentless demand for semiconductors from a wide range of industries has helped AMAT stock jump about 60% for the year-to-date.
The Street is heavily bullish on the name, too. Analysts' consensus recommendation stands at Buy, according to S&P Global Market Research. The high opinion stems in part from the Street's forecast for EPS to increase at an average annual rate of nearly 19% over the next three to five years.
"We believe underlying secular drivers are robust, broad-based and multi-year in nature," writes B. Riley analyst Craig Ellis, who rates AMAT at Buy.
Johnson & Johnson
- Market value: $445.7 billion
- Billionaire investor: ACR Alpine Capital Research
- Percent of portfolio: 6.3%
ACR Alpine Capital Research, a large advisory with $2.5 billion in AUM, has been a long-time fan of blue-chip Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, $169.25). The St. Louis-based asset manager first invested in the Dow stock at the end of 2010, and it added incrementally to the position in Q1.
ACR upped its stake in the multifaceted pharma giant by 1%, or 8,790 shares, bringing its total holdings to 704,842 shares. The stake, worth $115.8 million at quarter's end, is at the tail end of the advisory's top 10 stock picks, taking up 6.3% of ACR's total portfolio value.
Analysts have a consensus recommendation of Buy on JNJ. Among the arguments in favor of the stock, bulls point to its strong pharmaceutical pipeline, as well as a rebound in demand for medical devices as patients undergo elective procedures put off during the pandemic.
"We expect the recovery in elective procedures and patient visit volumes to accelerate as the pandemic is starting to get under control in the U.S., which should result in a strong recovery in Medical Devices sales and solid growth in Pharma revenues," writes CFRA Research analyst Sel Hardy, who rates shares at Buy.
Investors and analysts alike no doubt also appreciate the company's commitment to delivering income to investors. JNJ announced a 5% quarterly dividend increase in April 2021, to $1.06 per share from $1.01 per share. That marked this Dividend Aristocrat's 59th consecutive year of dividend increases.
- Market value: $31.2 billion
- Billionaire investor: Canyon Capital Advisors
- Percent of portfolio: 7.0%
Canyon Capital Advisors, with AUM of $20.9 billion, has propelled founders Joshua Friedman and Mitchell Julis to Forbes' list of highest-earning hedge fund millionaires.
So it's of interest that the Los Angeles-based fund significantly pared back on its two largest stock picks in Q1 – while greatly increasing its bet on chipmaker Xilinx (XLNX, $127.00).
In October 2020, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Xilinx announced a deal in which AMD would acquire the latter in an all-stock transaction valued at $35 billion.
Canyon first bought shares in Xilinx in the fourth quarter of 2020, at which point the stake accounted for 4.6% of the fund's portfolio value. Then in Q1, Canyon upped its XLNX holdings by 89%, or 672,829 shares.
The hedge fund's total stake of 1.4 million shares, worth $176.3 million at the end of Q1, now accounts for 7.0% of its portfolio value.
Canyon, with ownership of 0.58% of XLNX's shares outstanding, is a top-30 stockholder in the soon-to-be-acquired company. AMD and Xilinx expect their deal to close at the end of 2021.
Analysts' consensus recommendation on XLNX stands at Hold, pending the deal close. They do, however, rate AMD at Buy, and generally applaud the strategic rationale of merging the two chipmakers' complementary assets.
- Market value: $34.4 billion
- Billionaire investor: George Soros (Soros Fund Management)
- Percent of portfolio: 7.4%
Legendary hedge-fund tycoon George Soros, with an estimated net worth of $8.6 billion, per Forbes, today spends his days running Soros Fund Management.
The New York-based family office – a sort of private hedge fund – has $5.3 billion in AUM, and one of its biggest stock picks is a bet on the severe shortage of new homes for sale.
Soros first took a stake in homebuilder D.R. Horton (DHI, $95.29) during the first quarter of 2019, and he apparently remains bullish on the outlook. After all, the billionaire increased his DHI stake by 19%, or 703,850 shares, in the first quarter.
Soros Fund Management's most recent investment makes DHI its second-largest holding, at 7.4% of the portfolio. The stake of 4.4 million shares – worth $392.8 million at the end of Q1 – equals 1.2% of the homebuilder's shares outstanding. As such, Soros Fund Management is D.R. Horton's 15th largest shareholder.
With a consensus recommendation of Buy, per S&P Global Market Intelligence, the Street is also bullish on the name.
"With inventory constraints growing across the industry and buyer demand still nearly insatiable, we think DHI remains in an extraordinarily strong position to gain further market share and leverage its sector-leading scale," writes Raymond James analyst Buck Horne, who rates shares at Outperform (the equivalent of Buy).
- Market value: $1.9 trillion
- Billionaire investor: Chase Coleman III (Tiger Global Management)
- Percent of portfolio: 7.4%
Hedge-fund legend Chase Coleman III, with a net worth of $10.3 billion, according to Forbes, upped his bet on Microsoft (MSFT, $249.68) in the first quarter of 2021.
And he did so in a compelling fashion.
Coleman's Tiger Global Management ($79 billion AUM) increased its stake in MSFT by 15%, or 1.8 million shares, in the first three months of the year. The hedge fund now owns a total of 13.7 million shares, worth $3.2 billion at the end of Q1.
The MSFT stake, which accounts for 7.4% of Tiger Global's portfolio value, is second only to its bet on Chinese e-commerce company JD.com (JD), which is top among Coleman's stock picks at 9.9% of the portfolio.
Tiger Global first bought MSFT in the fourth quarter of 2016, and adding to the stake certainly makes sense. Wall Street analysts mostly adore this component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
After all, MSFT – the second-largest U.S. company by market value after Apple (AAPL) – lands among the pro's 11 best Nasdaq stocks you can buy. Analysts' consensus recommendation on MSFT comes to Strong Buy, with 26 Strong Buy calls, 11 Buys and one Hold rating.
- Market value: $602.3 billion
- Billionaire investor: Ark Invest
- Percent of portfolio: 7.6%
Ark Invest features prominently in the financial news these days, thanks to the strong performance of several of its actively managed exchange-traded funds.
Indeed, as Kiplinger has noted, 2020 was the year of Cathie Wood, CEO and founder of Ark Invest, who steered its then-five separate actively managed innovation-themed funds to the ranks of the best-performing equity ETFs of the year.
In addition to ETFs, Ark offers managed accounts and other products and services aimed at high net worth investors. Thanks to the various products and services it offers, the firm has amassed more than $55 billion in AUM.
So it says something when Ark's single-largest holding is Tesla (TSLA, $625.22) – especially since the firm is increasing its exposure to the electric vehicle maker at an accelerating pace.
Ark boosted its TSLA position by 39%, or 1.7 million shares, during the first quarter of 2021. The stake, which accounts for 7.6% of Ark Investment Management's equity portfolio, was worth nearly $4 billion at the end of Q1.
It's not hard to see why Wood likes TSLA so much. Her investment approach focuses on innovation, and Tesla, led by the mercurial Elon Musk, is nothing if not innovative.
- Market value: $263.4 billion
- Billionaire investor: Rothschild & Company Wealth Management UK
- Percent of portfolio: 9.0%
Rothschild & Company Wealth Management UK, a London-based hedge fund with $16.4 billion in AUM, is increasingly bullish on Comcast (CMCSA, $57.34).
Welcome to the club.
The nation's largest cable company regularly makes the list of hedge funds' favorite stock picks. That's because its combination of content, broadband, pay TV, theme parks and movies is unparalleled by rivals, and gives this blue-chip stock a huge strategic advantage.
CMCSA's diversification came in especially handy last year when the pandemic walloped theme parks, cinemas and spending on advertising.
"While the pandemic has materially impacted Comcast, the company's steady cable division continues to provide vital connectivity for its large base of 23 million subscribers," writes Argus Research analyst Joseph Bonner (Buy).
Rothschild first bought shares in the cable operator in the first quarter of 2019, and most recently upped its bet by 2%, or 194,324 shares. The hedge fund's total holdings of 9.2 million shares, worth $500.2 million at the end of Q1, accounted for 9.0% of its portfolio. CMCSA is now Rothchild's sixth-largest position.
Analysts' consensus recommendation on the stock comes to Buy, per S&P Global Market Intelligence, with 20 Strong Buy ratings, nine Buys, four Holds and one Strong Sell. The Street expects the company to deliver average annual EPS growth of nearly 16% over the next three to five years.
- Market value: $40.7 billion
- Billionaire investor: Caxton Associates
- Percent of portfolio: 9.4%
Billionaire philanthropist Bruce Kovner, with an estimated net worth of $6.6 billion, retired from his management role at Caxton Associates a decade ago. But the hedge fund he founded continues to rake in the bucks with his global macroeconomic trading strategies.
Indeed, Caxton last year closed its flagship fund to new money after posting record 40% gains during the pandemic. And the firm shows no signs of slowing down.
Caxton, with AUM of $25.7 billion, has owned Aptiv (APTV, $150.42) since the first quarter of 2019, but it really went all in earlier this year.
Caxton upped its stake in APTV by 61%, or 285,618 shares. Indeed, the purchase made APTV the fund's top stock pick, accounting for 9.4% of the portfolio, up from 4.2% three months ago. Caxton's 747,843 shares were worth $103.1 million at the end of Q1.
Shares in Aptiv, which makes safety, connectivity and green technology for vehicles, have essentially doubled over the past 52 weeks, and analysts say they have more room to run.
"Aptiv indeed is not only benefitting from accelerating industry adoption of vehicle electrification, advanced driver-assistance systems, and connected vehicle technologies, but also achieving dominant win rates in several of these areas based on its complete system knowledge, and software-based flexible architectures," writes Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner (Buy).
- Market value: $241.2 billion
- Billionaire investor: Atalan Capital Partners
- Percent of portfolio: 9.6%
Atalan Capital Partners, a New York hedge fund with AUM of $2 billion, boosted its stake in Adobe (ADBE, $504.58) in Q1, which vaulted the software company into the No. 2 spot among its stock picks.
Atalan increased its holdings by 38%, or 82,000 shares, in Q1, lifting its total stake to 295,000 shares worth $140.2 million as of March 31. The position accounts for 9.6% of the portfolio.
Atalan first picked up ADBE in the second quarter of 2020, which was not the best timing. Shares are up just about 16% since June 30 of last year, lagging the S&P 500 by roughly 20 percentage points.
That's not to say ADBE stock won't continue to be a winner in the longer run. Analysts tend to be heavily bullish on the name, thanks to its dominance in its field. After all, Adobe is the undisputed leader in making software for designers and other creative types. Its software arsenal includes Photoshop, Premiere Pro for video editing and Dreamweaver for website design, among others.
"As a result of its early-mover position and strategic M&A transactions, Adobe has established itself as the unchallenged leader in Creative software," writes Stifel analyst Jeffrey Parker Lane (Buy). "We view Adobe as one of the most compelling investment cases in our coverage areas."
The Street's consensus recommendation stands at Buy, with an annual EPS growth forecast of more than 15% over the next three to five years.
Thermo Fisher Scientific
- Market value: $184.5 billion
- Billionaire investor: Cryder Capital Partners
- Percent of portfolio: 9.7%
Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO, $469.50), is sometimes called the "Amazon of the healthcare industry" because of its wide-ranging portfolio of life sciences products, analytics and laboratory instruments.
As such, it has been highly active in the fight against COVID-19, which in turn has raised its profile and investor interest. And although TMO has been a holding of Cryder Capital Partners since 2015, the hedge fund remains an incremental buyer.
London-based Cryder Capital, with $1 billion in AUM, lifted its stake in TMO by 2%, or 6,398 shares, during the first three months of the year. The hedge fund now holds a total of 298,587 shares, worth $136.3 million as of March 31. Despite a high weight of 9.7%, TMO is just seventh largest among the fund's stock picks.
Analysts' consensus recommendation stands at Strong Buy, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Argus Research is just one research shop in the bull camp.
"Thermo is seeing strong demand for COVID-19 testing solutions as well as for instruments and supplies used by developers of vaccines and other treatments," writes analyst David Toung (Buy). "But the company is also investing its substantial cash flow in technology upgrades, capacity expansions and acquisitions."
With an average target price of $557.17, the Street gives TMO stock implied upside of about 18% in the next 12 months or so.
- Market value: $484.8 billion
- Billionaire investor: Valley Forge Capital Management
- Percent of portfolio: 10.2%
Visa (V, $227.30) routinely makes most lists of analysts', hedge funds' or billionaires' favorite stocks. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) owns a stake worth more than $2 billion, although chairman and CEO Warren Buffett readily credits the holding to one of his stock-picking lieutenants.
And indeed, there is much to like about this Dow stock. Visa operates the world's largest payments network, and thus is well-positioned to benefit from the growth of cashless transactions and digital mobile payments.
The Street's consensus recommendation is a high-conviction Buy. Of the analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 21 call V a Strong Buy, 12 rate it at Buy, four say Hold and one calls it a Sell.
Valley Forge Capital Management, a hedge fund in Wayne, Pennsylvania, with $1.1 billion in AUM, is certainly a big believer. Visa accounts for 10.2% of its equity portfolio.
The fund increased its Visa stake by 88%, or 477,181 shares, in Q1. It now holds more than 1 million shares worth $215 million as of March 31. Mind you, Valley Forge Capital is hardly a novice in this stock. The fund has counted Visa among its stock picks since 2016.
Although the pandemic greatly curtailed spending in a number of Visa's categories – most notably travel and entertainment – those headwinds should now be in the past. Indeed, the gradual global reopening – and accelerating secular growth in cashless payments, helped by the perception that cash is "dirty" – make a solid bull case for Visa stock.
- Market value: $230.7 billion
- Billionaire investor: Cavalry Management Group
- Percent of portfolio: 10.4%
Intel (INTC, $57.12) has fallen far behind the competition on any number of fronts, which is why analysts and investors were so delighted when the chipmaker hired Pat Gelsinger, former CEO of VMWare (VMW), to take over in February.
Heck, some observers said it was the best decision the troubled company made in more than a decade. And, indeed, this Dow stock has been a disappointing performer. Shares are up just 3% over the past three years vs. a gain of 54% for the S&P 500.
So props to Cavalry Management Group for making a bold bet on the semiconductor company earlier this year. The San Francisco hedge fund with $2.6 billion in AUM initiated a large enough position to instantly make Intel its top stock pick.
Cavalry Management bought 1.7 million shares during the first three months of 2021. With a value of $111.6 million at the end of Q1, INTC accounted for more than 10% of the hedge fund's investments.
Cavalry largely focuses on large-cap tech stocks, so Intel certainly fits well with its broader strategy. Other moves the fund made in Q1 included more than tripling its stake in Microsoft, and almost doubling its holdings in Ericsson (ERIC).
The Street is generally more cautious on INTC than Cavalry Management is. Analysts' consensus recommendation stands at Hold, per S&P Global Market Intelligence.
- Market value: $305.5 billion
- Billionaire investor: Dorsey Asset Management
- Percent of portfolio: 11.8%
Digital mobile payments and the expansion of cashless transactions are one of the hottest areas of growth in financial tech. And although the sector offers no shortage of promising new names, old-timer PayPal Holdings (PYPL, $260.02) still gets plenty of analyst – and billionaire investor – love.
Explosive growth in mobile transactions, the monetization of its Venmo property and incremental revenue growth in its Xoom business all help make for a compelling bull case on PYPL, analysts say.
"Simply put, PayPal should continue to benefit from the secular shift to e-commerce that should drive a roughly 20% revenue compound annual growth rate (CAGR), which, coupled with margin expansion and capital allocation (mergers & acquisitions plus stock buybacks), should result in an earnings CAGR north of 20% over the next several years," writes Raymond James analyst John Davis, who rates the stock at Outperform (the equivalent of Buy).
Dorsey Asset Management, with $1.3 billion in AUM, embraces the bull case on PYPL in a big way. The Chicago-based hedge fund increased its stake in PayPal by 81%, or 209,025 shares, in Q1. Its total holdings of 465,266 shares, worth $113 million as of March 31, comprises 11.8% of its stock investments.
That's up from 7.9% of the portfolio three months ago. PYPL, which Dorsey has owned since the second quarter of 2018, is now its fifth-largest position.
Analysts' consensus recommendation on the stock stands at Buy, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
- Market value: $5.8 billion
- Billionaire investor: Bill Ackman (Pershing Square Capital)
- Percent of portfolio: 12.1%
No one doubts Bill Ackman's investing acumen. His Pershing Square Capital hedge fund has allowed the investor to amass a personal fortune of $3 billion, per Forbes.
And he's never been one to shy away from the media. So his increasing stake in Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC, $105.83) is far from a state secret. Indeed, Ackman has owned shares in the master-planned community developer since it was spun off from General Growth Properties in 2010.
Given Ackman's propensity for being an activist investor, his latest purchase is eyebrow-raising news, nonetheless.
The hedge-fund billionaire increased his stake in HHC by 23%, or 2.6 million shares, in Q1. Pershing Square's stake of 13.5 million shares was worth $1.3 billion at the first quarter's end.
Most notably, Ackman now holds almost a quarter of HHC's shares outstanding. That makes the hedge fund the company's largest investor by a wide margin. Asset manager Vanguard, at No. 2, owns just 10.8% of HHC.
Meanwhile, HHC, at 12.1% of its portfolio, is now Pershing Square Capital's sixth-largest position.
For those keeping score at home, HHC stock has doubled over the past 52 weeks vs. a gain of about 38% for the S&P 500. For the year-to-date, it's up by more than a third. That compares with the broader market's gain of about 12% so far this year.
Only three analysts cover HHC, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. One rates it at Strong Buy, while the other two say Buy.
- Market value: $137.7 billion
- Billionaire investor: Two Creeks Capital Management
- Percent of portfolio: 12.2%
Two Creeks Capital Management, a New York hedge fund with AUM of $2.8 billion, made a big addition to its stake in Lowe's (LOW, $194.83) in the first quarter – a move most analysts would regard as wise.
The nation's second-largest home improvement retailer after Home Depot (HD) benefited greatly from the work-from-home/stuck-at-home reality of pandemic life. Analysts say many of the do-it-yourself habits consumers adopted during COVID times are here to stay. Lowe's is also being aided by the ultra-tight housing market.
The Street gives LOW a consensus recommendation of Buy. Argus Research, which counts itself in the Buy camp, says Lowe's has several strong tailwinds behind it.
"We believe that the major drivers of post-pandemic sales growth remain the same," writes Argus Research analyst Christopher Graja. "There has been significant underinvestment in housing. About 70% of U.S. homes are more than 25 years old and likely in need of upgrades and repairs. Millennials are starting families."
Income investors know the power of Lowe's dividend over the longer haul. The Dividend Aristocrat has paid a cash distribution every quarter since going public in 1961, and that dividend has increased annually for almost 60 years.
The bullish investment thesis led Two Creeks to up its stake in this stock pick by 14%, or 132,811 shares, in Q1. The hedge fund's total stake of 1.1 million LOW shares, worth $200 million at the end of Q1, accounts for 12.2% of its portfolio, representing its third-largest holding.
- Market value: $1.6 trillion
- Billionaire investor: Metropolis Capital
- Percent of portfolio: 13.3%
It should come as no surprise that hedge funds are big believers in Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL, $2,356,85). Metropolis Capital, a U.K.-based investor with $1.4 billion in AUM, is just one of about 225 hedge funds upping its stake in the internet giant in Q1.
Metropolis thinks highly enough of the search leader that it increased its stake by 22%, or 13,679 shares. The firm now holds a total of 74,868 shares worth $154.4 million, or 13.3% of its total portfolio, as of March 31.
Alphabet happens to be in good company at this hedge fund. GOOGL is Metropolis' second-largest stock pick after Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B).
If nothing else, Alphabet's pandemic performance in totality bolstered the case that GOOGL is not a one-trick pony. Its numerous other endeavors likewise shore up the case. For example, Alphabet is a key player in cloud-based services, and home to Nest Labs and self-driving car startup Waymo. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality are other areas of heavy investment.
"We continue to favor Google as a core large-cap growth holding given the strong digital advertising backdrop, continued strength from Cloud, ongoing share repurchases (with the newly authorized $50 billion program) and a reasonable valuation," writes Canaccord Genuity analyst Maria Ripps (Buy).
Analysts' consensus recommendation on the name stands at Strong Buy. Of the 45 analysts issuing opinions on the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 32 rate it at Strong Buy, 12 say Buy and one has it at Hold.
- Market value: $324.6 billion
- Billionaire investor: Kirkoswald Asset Management
- Percent of portfolio: 16.5%
Coronavirus took a huge bite out of some of Walt Disney's (DIS, $178.65) most important businesses: namely, its theme parks and studios. But after encouraging quarterly results, analysts say business is set to bounce back in a big way.
Disneyland and other California amusement parks have reopened with restrictions. And admissions at Florida's Disney World continue to climb.
"With mask mandates lifted and capacity constraints loosened further, we would not be surprised to see a step change in attendance in the near future," writes Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft (Buy).
But that's nothing compared to what DIS has on its hands in the streaming media wars.
Disney+ is a smashing success. The streaming platform, which launched in November 2019, has already amassed almost 100 million subscribers – a staggering rate of growth. Consider that Disney+ now has about half as many subscribers as Netflix (NFLX) – but Netflix had a roughly 12-year head start.
Kirkoswald Asset Management, a New York hedge fund with AUM of $4 billion, decided to get in on DIS as a recovery stock pick in Q1. It initiated a stake of 5,200 shares, worth almost $1 million, during the first three months of the year.
The new stake immediately made DIS its second-largest position among $5.8 million in managed securities.
Most of the Street would approve of Kirkoswald's investment. Analysts have a consensus Buy recommendation on this Dow stock.
- Market value: $661.0 billion
- Billionaire investor: Southeast Asset Advisors
- Percent of portfolio: 16.8%
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
So it's little wonder that so many hedge funds, large advisories and other billion-dollar-plus pools of money throw in their lots with the Oracle of Omaha.
Southeast Asset Advisors, an investment manager and hedge fund based in Thomasville, Georgia, with $1.6 billion in AUM, has been a BRK.B shareholder since 2008. Indeed, BRK.B, at 16.8% of its portfolio, is the fund's top holding.
And it's only getting bigger.
Southeast increased its stake in BRK.B by 2%, or 7,747 shares, in Q1. It now holds 365,149 shares worth $93.3 million. Only Alphabet Class C shares (GOOG) come close to the firm's BRK.B stake, accounting for 11.7% of the portfolio.
BRK.B has been an outstanding performer both in 2021 and over the past 52 weeks. The stock is up 25% for the year-to-date, essentially doubling the S&P 500's gains. And over the past year? BRK.B returned 57% vs. a price increase of less than 40% for the broad-market gauge.
Only four analysts cover BRK.B stock, per S&P Global Market Intelligence. Their consensus recommendation comes to Buy.
- Market value: $580.4 billion
- Billionaire investor: Conifer Management
- Percent of portfolio: 20.7%
Conifer Management, a New York hedge fund with $7.7 billion in AUM, has more than a fifth of its portfolio invested in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA, $213.96).
Indeed, after upping its stake by 147%, or 884,845 shares, in Q1, BABA is Conifer's top holding. Its total stake of 1.5 million shares was worth $336.7 million at the end of the first quarter.
Conifer initiated its stake in BABA only in the final quarter of last year. To the hedge fund's credit, this stock pick is a highly defensible investment idea.
Alibaba is sometimes called the Amazon of China. There are important differences between the two, but they do share the enviable trait of being undisputed titans in e-commerce.
And like Amazon, Alibaba has never shied away from investing heavily to both build out its existing businesses and enter new ones. As a result, BABA finds itself spreading beyond its core e-commerce business into cloud computing, digital payments and more.
It also helps that BABA and investors can now move past a $2.75 billion fine imposed by Chinese regulators for violating anti-monopoly laws.
Some analysts worry about decelerating revenue in the company's cloud services business, but the majority of the Street sees recent share-price weakness as a buying opportunity.
The consensus recommendation of 49 analysts tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence comes to Strong Buy on BABA stock.
- Market value: $357.4 billion
- Billionaire investor: Valley Forge Capital Management
- Percent of portfolio: 22.6%
If Valley Forge Capital Management likes Visa – as noted above – it absolutely adores competitor Mastercard (MA, $360.58).
The Wayne, Pennsylvania-based hedge fund with $1.1 billion in AUM almost doubled its stake in this stock pick in the first quarter. And with more than a fifth of its portfolio tied up in the payments processor, Mastercard is Valley Forge's top holding.
The hedge fund bought another 665,544 shares, representing a 98% increase, in Q1, bringing its total holdings to 1.3 million shares. The position was worth $477.9 million as of March 31.
Valley Forge, which owns 0.14% of MA's shares outstanding, has been an investor in the company since 2016. It's a bet that appears to have done quite well. Mastercard stock's five-year total return – price appreciation plus dividends – comes to 30.8%, according to Morningstar data. That beats its sector by 5.7 percentage points and leads the broader market by 13.4 percentage points.
Like Visa, Mastercard has relentless growth in digital mobile payments and other cashless transactions at its back.
"Mastercard is a key beneficiary of the long-term secular shift toward electronic forms of payments, and that new technology is helping accelerate the shift," writes William Blair analyst Robert Napoli (Outperform)
And, just like Visa, MA has a lot of fans on the Street. Analysts' consensus recommendation stands at Buy.
- Market value: $932.1 billion
- Billionaire investor: Altarock Partners
- Percent of portfolio: 24.4%
There's a strong bull case to be made for Facebook (FB, $328.73), the social media giant that forms a digital-ad duopoly with Google. Just ask Altarock Partners.
This hedge fund, based in Beverly, Massachusetts, with AUM of $3.1 billion, has almost a quarter of its portfolio socked away in Facebook stock. After buying another 465,800 shares, a 27% increase, in Q1, the hedge fund is sitting on 2.2 million shares worth $641.4 million as of March 31.
That makes FB Altarock's second-largest holding.
And just who is at No. 1?
None other than Google parent Alphabet, which commands 25.1% of Altarock's investment portfolio.
The hedge fund first bought FB in the fourth quarter of last year, so it's building up its position on the stock pick pretty rapidly. And well it should, if analysts are right about this name.
The Street's consensus recommendation on FB stands at Strong Buy, as analysts forecast the company to deliver truly impressive profit growth for some time.
"We believe Facebook's share gains during the pandemic and new initiatives in e-commerce can drive many years of above-market growth," writes Stifel analyst John Egbert (Buy). "We are comfortable with the potential outcomes of antitrust inquiries and believe FB shares offer investors a rare combination of growth and value relative to its peers."
- Market value: $28.2 billion
- Billionaire investor: Felix and Julian Baker (Baker Bros. Advisors)
- Percent of portfolio: 29.7%
Seagen (SGEN, $155.35), a biotechnology firm specializing in oncology treatments, couldn't get a bigger vote of confidence than being the top holding of Baker Bros. Advisors.
This New York-based hedge fund with $35.8 billion in AUM is led by billionaire biotech investors Julian and Felix Baker. The brothers may keep a low profile, but they're plenty famous in the world of biotech stocks. A series of successful investments have allowed the Bakers to build an estimated combined fortune of about $4 billion, according to Forbes.
And judging by their latest regulatory filings, the brothers have great expectations for Seagen, too. The stock pick accounts for nearly 30% of the total value of the Baker Bros.' holdings, up from 28.5% three months ago.
The increase stems in part from Baker Bros. buying another 347,745 shares in SGEN in the first quarter of 2021. The fund's total holdings of 47.6 million shares were worth more than $7 billion at the end of Q1.
The stake gives Baker Bros. ownership of 26.3% of SGEN's shares outstanding, which makes it the biotech company's largest shareholder by a wide margin. The second-largest investor – Capital Research and Management – holds only 8.6% of SGEN's shares outstanding.