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  • Martin Sosnoff

Quarterly Portfolio Filings Leave Me Cold

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Despite the fractious market setting, honchos running billions, even trillions of assets didn’t make any notable changes in their portfolios. No earth shaking moves like Buffett’s huge play in Apple.

Surprisingly, same gaps in sector construct. Nobody’s stocking up on financials and oils. Stocks like Exxon, J.P. Morgan, and General Electric are conspicuous by their absence.

Microsoft, a great-acting tech shows fewer concentrated holders than Apple. Some 30% of my assets rest in Microsoft and Amazon. They are still underplayed by most big houses.

My deep basic is nobody is making wholesale changes in portfolio construct. Not many new adds of Exxon Mobil or an array of bank stocks, industrials and non-cyclicals like drug houses and healthcare operators.

No new real portfolio diversification going on. The 10% sinking in Walmart suggests the market still fears consumer spending numbers showing some late foot.

Apple may be 30% of the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio, but Warren isn’t bullish on stocks. BRK carries wads of its assets in Treasuries, and I’d assume Warren is waiting for a lower inflection point for getting fully reinvested. Anyone truly defensive should put half his assets in 10-year Treasuries, and walk away. I’m at 30% in Treasuries yielding 5%. Am I turning cowardly in my old age? Maybe yes, maybe no. Just added Macy’s as a soft landing play in retailing.

Before plunging half your assets into a handful of growth stocks, consider that nothing lasts forever. Average life of a qrowthie hardly exceeds 5 years. Think of Polaroid and Xerox flaming out after a decade or so of super growth. Not only did they stop growing, but they flopped for the count of 10.

Walmart, just disappointed in their quarterly numbers. Overnight, the market lopped off nearly 10%. Money managers rated WMT as a polite growthie with first class management. We’ll see. Markets today, are tighter than a bull’s ass. Quarterly releases of Fed stats do ignite the market, both ways.

After crunching couple of dozen quarterly portfolios from honchos running anywhere from a billion to 1 trillion, I felt short of elation. Couldn’t find any newly emerging themes, even though many operators display high ratios of turnover, the static ratio.

Anyone turning over his list, quarterly, is normally on a road to ruin unless life consists of trading for eighths and quarters like Renaissance Technology, a trillion dollar house, making brokers rich, or at least richer.

There’s some obvious unlikely gaps in portfolios, like energy and financials. Both which have blown hot and cold over recent quarters. Look at Buffett’s major holding in American Express around for decades. His OXY position is sizable and new. Apple is one third of BRK’s $319 billion portfolio.

Macy’s is my new play for a soft landing economy. Pershing Square avoids tech consistently with major holdings in Chipotle Restaurant Brand, Hilton Worldwide and Lowe’s. This is a great long cycle investment house.

Among trillion dollar pools with low turnover ratios, Paulson eschews tech and financials for healthcare and gold. I never heard of its top positions, namely Horizon Therapeutics and Brightsphere. If you miss tech and financials, but not big game stoppers take a look at Rowe Price, around nearly forever as a long term, patient player in growth stocks. Top three positions are familiar enough, namely, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. I've 30% of my money in this trio. Give them credit for staying the course as a long distance runner.

Then, there is Renaissance Technology, who turns over its portfolio quarterly. Two largest positions are Novo and Apple, but just under 4% assets. With $58 trillion under management somebody must think there’s the way to manage money. I pass.

To sum up, I learned more watching what these operators didn’t own, then what they concentrated in. Buffet remains the extreme in concentration. Big growth funds that are broadly based and too diversified leave me cold.

Nobody’s making a fuss over energy except Carl Icahn and Buffett. Should we pay attention?

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