Hedge Fund Tracking: Atticus Capital's 13F (Timothy Barakett) ~ market folly

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hedge Fund Tracking: Atticus Capital's 13F (Timothy Barakett)

(Note: Before reading this update, make sure you check out the preface to the series I'm doing on Hedge Fund 13F's here)

Atticus Capital is a $13 billion hedge fund ran by Timothy Barakett. In 2005, Atticus' funds were up a combined 45%. And, they finished well over 30% for 2006. Barakett founded the firm at age 26 in 1995 and focuses on taking large, concentrated positions in companies. One of Atticus' most famous investments was Phelps Dodge, a miner which was bought out by Freeport McMoran (FCX). At one point, Atticus owned more than 9% of Phelps. And, they continue to hold their position in what is now the combined FCX. Barakett received his BA in Economics from Harvard and his MBA from Harvard as well. Its very evident that Barakett employs macro based investment theses. Once he has decided on what the trend is, he will find the best company within that trend and he will place a big bet. And, when needed, he will step in and take an activist role, ensuring the company is performing to his liking. And, much more often than not, he wins.

I love covering Atticus simply because their investment style is the most similar to mine that I have found thus far, in terms of hedge funds. (Well, minus the activist part since I'm a measly retail investor haha.) I will be detailing the changes to Atticus' portfolio as referenced in their latest 13F filing, which shows the portfolio changes they made last quarter. I won't be going into as much detail on Atticus as I have on the ex-Tiger Management funds (Lone Pine, Blue Ridge, Maverick) simply because Atticus has fewer, more concentrated positions. So, I'll cover the major moves and give the jist of what's going on in their portfolio. Just remember that this is by no means all their positions; they have some more, but they are literally tiny positions. With Atticus, you want to be placing your money with their big bets. These are just the bigger/notable moves that they made.

New Positions:
AngloGold Ashanti (AU) 918,000 shares
Newmont Mining (NEM) 1,022,400 shares
Visa (V) 7,799,500 ipo shares

Added to:
Genomic Health (GHDX) increased by
Goldfields (GFI) increased by

Reduced Positions:
CSX Corp (CSX): sold out of all their CSX shares, and sold half of their CSX calls.
Freeport McMoran (FCX) Shares: reduced from 16,393,273 shares to 11,523,563 shares
Freeport McMoran (FCX) Calls: reduced Calls position from 10,014,400 shares through calls to 2,214,900 shares through calls
Mastercard (MA) Shares: reduced from from 4,093,290 shares to 3,621,683 shares
Mastercard (MA) Calls: reduced Calls position from 1,594,600 shares through calls to 194,600 shares through calls
Norfolk Southern (NSC) Shares: reduced from 5,634,016 shares to 1,921,900 shares
Norfolk Southern (NSC) Calls: reduced Calls position from 203,600 shares though calls to 0 shares through calls
NYSE (NYX) Shares: reduced from 15,261,911 shares to 13,955,540 shares
NYSE (NYX) Calls: reduced Calls position from 7,251,400 shares though calls to 0 shares through calls
Occidental Petroleum (OXY): reduced from 9,428,982 shares to 7,414,900 shares

Removed Positions:
Inverness Medical (IMA)
Monsanto (MON)
Moody's (MCO)
Praxair (PX)
Research in Motion (RIMM)
Verisign (VRSN)


Breakdown: Alright, so after checking out the major moves from Atticus' portfolio, its very clear to see that Barakett is putting big bets on gold through the miners themselves. It appears as if they were taking profits from their long held Phelps Dodge (now FCX) and applying that cash to pick up and add to other miners. The weird thing here is that FCX, although their name has "Gold" in it, is mainly a copper producer. These other miners they added are mainly gold miners. So, since we cannot see commodity holdings through the 13f's, I would bet that Barakett owns some gold. Because otherwise, his choice to play this thesis through the miners baffles me, because he is exposed to the company specific risk. He has protected himself somewhat by diversifying amongst the miners, spreading his risk around. But still, a puzzling move to me. While I agree that the US faces heavier inflation fears than construed by many, his bet on the miners is taking some time for me to digest. I do not see the Gold etf GLD in his portfolio, so I would guess that he owns some of the actual commodity. That is, unless, he sees something completely different in the miners themselves. Clearly though, he was buying the dip in gold. And, although he takes some profits in FCX, it still continues to be the fund's #1 holding. Note though, that his position size in these miners pales in comparison to his various other top fund holdings, ie: the gold miners are not massive holdings in his portfolio, save for FCX, which is a copper play anyways, so there's a difference.

They got their hands on a massive allocation of Visa (V) ipo shares, and so that has undoubtedly paid off. I'm sure they will sell a little bit to take some profits, but hold the vast majority, as they have done with Mastercard (MA). It is very apparent that Barakett is a big believer in MA's global presence and expansion. He sold a little MA, but again, not substantial enough to be more than profit taking. After all, MA is up huge. V fits right in there with that same thesis so it makes sense for him to add in mass on the ipo where he got the shares dirt cheap (damn you!). His position in MA is worth twice as much as his position in V (in $ value). Look for him to possibly even add even more V on any dips.

What I haven't necessarily detailed here is Atticus' massive position in the rails. Although they sold out of most of their CSX, they have absolutely HUGE positions in BNI and UNP (in fact, they are the fund's #4 and #1 holdings respectively). So, they have slowly but surely traded out of CSX over the past few quarters in favor of BNI and UNP. No surprise here, as almost every smart guy on wall street is in big on the rails.

Ahh NYSE (NYX), good ole NYX. This is a pretty massive position for Atticus, still in the top 10 of holdings even though they've been selling some off. As a recent shareholder myself, I know the pain they must be feeling. The thesis behind investing in NYX makes perfect sense and I'm right with Barakett on it. But, it seems as if this is going to take much longer to play out than he has imagined. He's been reducing his position size a little bit to reduce his risk, considering he must have been taking quite a big hit from this position. We'll see if he has dwindled it down even further next quarter. If that's the case, it might be time to re-evaluate NYX as there might be fundamental problems with this name.

Barakett continues to play oil through Conoco Philips (COP) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY). Although he sold off some OXY, he still has a pretty large position. I would guess he was just taking profits in that name, as it is up pretty significantly. His position in COP is larger anyhow.

Other odds and ends worth pointing out is Atticus' tiny position in Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE). Sound familiar? Yep, this is Boone Pickens' company. And, Boone Pickens' BP Capital has a pretty hefty position in his own company too. Just thought that was interesting. Also worth noting is that Atticus has a pretty sizable stake in Crown Castle (CCI). I was puzzled as to why Maverick Capital had sold out of their CCI last quarter, but its reassuring to see Atticus still holding a large position in it. Having done more research on it over the past week, it really makes sense to me as an investment and I really am dumbstruck as to why Maverick sold it off. Also, just like practically every other well known hedge fund, Atticus holds decent positions in all 3 of the major Brazilian banks: Unibanco (UBB), Banco Bradesco (BBD) and Banco Itau (BBD). Typically, it seems that most hedgers have bigger bets on ITU and BBD. But, Atticus is the inverse in that their position in UBB is the size of their position in BBD and ITU combined. These are three of the staples for any Brazilian index fund. And, with good reason. These names are very compelling due to their positioning in a blossoming Brazilian financial scene. I haven't been in these names ever since I sold out to take profits, but am definitely at looking to get back in. I'm invested in a Brazilian index fund for my retirement account, but I need more Brazil exposure in my macro investment account.

The main thing that strikes me overall about Atticus' portfolio is the conviction with which Barakett invests in the trends he really believes in. His portfolio has either a tiny stake in the stock, or a massive stake in the stock, hardly much in between. There are only a handful of names in his portfolio that fall in the "in between" category. And, this is after the fact that I've taken into account that the sectors he's bet big on have appreciated a lot in value. Even after subtracting what I gauge to be "fair profit" in those names, his original positions in those names are still among the largest in his portfolio. So, the argument that they are his largest holdings due to their large appreciation is a non-factor. He's got massive bets on in payment processing, precious metals/mining (FCX), oil, and the rails. I'll be keeping a close eye on which of the "smaller" holdings suddenly become elevated into a large holding. Because when that happens, Barakett has come to his next macro conclusion and will have acted swiftly.

Personal Favorites out of Atticus' Portfolio: MA, V, OXY, FCX, (NYX - even though its a death trap), UBB, ITU, BBD, CCI

Most interesting moves: Using some profits from FCX to load up on various gold/precious metal miners. I've never thought the gold miners themselves to be that great of investments. I only like FCX so much because its not really a gold company, they're much more of a copper and molybdenum story. Selling completely out of RIMM was also interesting... I'm sure he'll be back once those shares come crashing down again. But, he still has a decent sized position in Baidu (BIDU) for 'tech' exposure.

Note, of their positions, I'm long: MA, V, OXY, FCX, NYX, BNI

Names I want to research further: CCI, BBD, ITU, UBB, PAC

Look out in the coming days as I wrap up the hedge fund coverage with a few last 'notorious' funds and whales.


AngleEdge said...

Got to scratch my head on the whole loading up on the miners as well theme. I have always thought it safer to buy the commodity itself directly, whether through an ETF or actual possession of the commodity. I think the miners are facing some increasing input costs, such as fuel and labor. Maybe Barakett is expecting a "super-spike" in gold prices to offset these costs.

Saying that, the junior miners are looking interesting about now. Especially those with proven reserves. I think that as it gets more expensive and difficult for some of the big names to develop and locate deposits, the junior miners might become attractive buyout targets.

marketfolly said...

yea exactly. the only thing i guess that makes me "ok" with this move is that it is by no means a large part of his portfolio. His gold mining positions are tiny compared to his positions in copper producer FCX or the rails or oil. I just wanted to point it out since he was adding them across the board it seems. The main thing will be to see if he continues to add them in the next 13f filing.