Hedge Fund Tracking: Blue Ridge Capital's 13F (John A. Griffin) ~ market folly

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hedge Fund Tracking: Blue Ridge Capital's 13F (John A. Griffin)

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

The 13F breakdowns are really flowing now and if you've missed them, I've already covered Jeffrey Gendell's Tontine Partners here, Bret Barakett's Tremblant Capital here, and Peter Thiel's Clarium Capital here. Next up, we have one of my personal favorites: Blue Ridge Capital ran by John A. Griffin. Now, Griffin is similar to Steve Mandel at Lone Pine Capital and Lee Ainslie at Maverick Capital in that they all are 'Tiger Cubs' (a.k.a. pupils of Julian Robertson while at Tiger Management). Griffin though, is more well known because he was Julian Robertson's right hand man. So, needless to say, the dude knows his stuff. Blue Ridge seeks absolute returns by investing in companies who dominate their industries and shorting the companies who have fundamental problems. And, right off the bat that presents us with a bit of a problem in terms of analyzing 13F's. 13F's don't show short positions, they show long positions (unless the firm is short through puts, which we *can* see). So, the inherent problem with analyzing Blue Ridge (or any fund for that matter) is that we can't see the other side of their portfolio. But, this is increasingly important for Blue Ridge simply due to Griffin's investment strategy and the fact that his long positions could in essence only represent half of the portfolio. Now, I use that loosely because there's no way for me to know exactly how much of his portfolio is short. But, I do know that both Griffin at Blue Ridge and Lee Ainslie over at Maverick Capital (research on him coming later this week) like to effectively hedge with a balance of both long and short positions (like a TRUE hedge fund... not like some of these crazy funds these days with no true hedging). Here's the thing: they don't do pairs trades, so don't classify it as that. In the past, I remember specifically being told by representatives at Maverick that they don't pairs trade, even though a respective long and short could be in the same sector or sub-sector. So, make that distinction clear. But, we'll work with what we've got (and believe me, it's still a lot of solid info).

Before beginning, I would like to give a special shoutout to Alex Prywes for helping me with the daunting task of analyzing 13F filings. Alex has helped gather and sort through the data of numerous hedge funds (including the one below). Thanks to Alex's help, we can now cover even more funds. And, on that note.... onto the 13F!

The following are Blue Ridge Capital's current holdings as of June 30th 2008, as released in their most recent 13F filing with the SEC. The positions in this most recent 13F were compared to last quarter's 13F and here are the changes made to their portfolio:

New Positions:
Anadarko Petroleum (APC): 2,335,000 shares. This position is 4.29% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.
Visa Inc (V): 1,720,000 shares. 3.43% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.
Vulcan materials: 1,500,000 shares. 2.20% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.
Rowan Cos (RDC): 1,800,000 shares. 2.06% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.
Amazon (AMZN): 940,000 shares. 1.69% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.
Goodrich Petroleum (GDP): 650,000 shares. 1.32% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.
Countrywide Financial: 1,433,000 shares. 0.15% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.
Bare Escentuals (BARE): 281,500 shares. 0.13% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.
Nutrisystem (NTRI): 233,000 shares. 0.08% of Blue Ridge's portfolio.

Added to:
Federal National Mortgage (FNM): Increased position by 1104%. Position is now 2.77% of their portfolio.
Greenlight Capital Re Ltd (GLRE): Increased position by 76.5%. Position is now 0.20% of their portfolio.
Wyeth (WYE): Increased position by 62.86%. Position is now 6.71% of their portfolio.
Apple (AAPL): Increased position by 15.65%. Position is now 5.46% of their portfolio.
Grupo Televisa (TV): Increased position by 11.83%. Position is now 4.46% of their portfolio.
Echostar (SATS): Increased position by 9.97%. Position is now 1.61% of their portfolio.
Google (GOOG): Increased position by 6.09%. Position is now 6.75% of their portfolio.
Broadrige Financial (BR): Increased position by 0.84%. Position is now 3.71% of their portfolio.

Reduced Positions:
American Express (AXP): Reduced position by 23.98%. Position is now 6.05% of their portfolio.
Netflix (NFLX): Reduced position by 28.6%. Position is now 0.93% of their portfolio.
Walmart (WMT): Reduced position by 35.75%. Position is now 2.54% of their portfolio.
First Marblehead (FMD): Reduced position by 36.64%. Position is now 0.05% of their portfolio.
Elong Inc (LONG): Reduced position by 51.82%. Position is now 0.02% of their portfolio.
Grupo Aeroportuario Del Pacifico (PAC): Reduced position by 54.83%. Position is now 1.16% of their portfolio.
Crocs (CROX): Reduced position by 66.06%. Position is now 0.14% of their portfolio.

Removed Positions (Positions Blue Ridge sold out of completely):
America Movil (AMX)
Burlington Northern (BNI)
Coach (COH)
Corus Bankshares (CORS)
Fidelity National Information (FIS)
First American Corp California (FAF)
Formfactor (FORM)
Office Depot (ODP)
SLM Corp (SLM)
Smurfit Stone Container (SSCC)
St Joe Co (JOE)
Starbucks (SBUX)
WebMD Health (WBMD)

Positions with no change:
Covanta (CVA). Position is 5.27% of their portfolio.
Millipore (MIL). Position is 4.49% of their portfolio.
Charles Schwab (SCHW). Position is 4.32% of their portfolio.
Discovery Holding Co (DISCA). Position is 3.89% of their portfolio.
Martin Marietta Materials (MLM). Position is 3.41% of their portfolio.
Target (TGT). Position is 3.11% of their portfolio.
Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO). Position is 2.90% of their portfolio.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A). Position is 2.49% of their portfolio.
Fomento Economico Mexicano (FMX). Position is 2.31% of their portfolio.
Packaging Corp of America (PKG). Position is 2.18% of their portfolio.
Compton Petroleum Corp (CMZ). Position is 2.08% of their portfolio.
Research in Motion (RIMM). Position is 1.86% of their portfolio.
Eagle Materials (EXP). Position is 1.22% of their portfolio.
Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH). Position is 1.18% of their portfolio.
American Express (AXP) Calls. Position is 0.64% of their portfolio.
MBIA (MBI). Position is 0.27% of their portfolio.
Federal Home Loan Mortgage (FRE). Position is 0.20% of their portfolio.
Evergreen Energy (EEE). Position is 0.12% of their portfolio.
Gold Reserve Inc (GRZ). Position is 0.10% of their portfolio.
Washington Mutual (WM) Puts. Position is 0.02% of their portfolio.
Perfect World Co (PWRD). Position is 0.01% of their portfolio.
Indymac Bancorp (IDMC). Position is 0.01% of their portfolio.

Top 10 holdings by % of portfolio:
1. Google (GOOG). 6.75% of the portfolio
2. Wyeth (WYE). 6.71% of the portfolio
3. American Express (AXP). 6.05% of the portfolio
4. Apple (AAPL). 5.46% of the portfolio
5. Covanta (CVA). 5.27% of the portfolio
6. Millipore (MIL). 4.49% of the portfolio
7. Grupo Televisa (TV). 4.46% of the portfolio
8. Charles Schwab (SCHW). 4.32% of the portfolio
9. Anadarko Petroleum (APC). 4.29% of the portfolio
10. Discovery Holding Co (DISCA). 3.89% of the portfolio


First thing I noticed was Blue Ridge's addition of Anadarko Petroleum (APC). They added it in mass, bringing it up to the fund's 9th largest holding. Although I've seen many hedge funds adding this name over the past 2 quarters, do keep in mind that this filing was as of June 30th, 2008. Since then, natural gas prices, oil prices, and pretty much any stock in those sectors have all plummeted. But, it is worth noting that I have seen this name pop up on 13F filings much more frequently recently. And, Blue Ridge did make quite a hefty purchase. We'll have to wait until next quarter to see whether it was a trade or an investment. In the past, when Griffin has brought a position up to a top 10 holding in one quarter, he has held onto the position. So, time to play the waiting game on that one. Also, he added quite a large new position in Visa (V), bringing it up to 3.43% of the portfolio after not even holding a position last go-round (leaving it just shy of being a top 10 holding).

Next, I noticed he was adding more shares of Wyeth (WYE). This name was already a large fund holding, and he added to his position by 62%, bringing it up to the fund's 2nd largest holding. Recently, there has definitiely been a rotation into any and all stocks relating to healthcare. This is no exception. Also worth noting is Griffin's addition to his already large Apple (AAPL) position. He continues to add to this name and appears to be assembling a solid core position over time.

Even though Griffin made some purchases, he was definitely busier on the selling side of things. And, that makes me even more curious than usual as to what short positions he holds. But, because hedge funds are not required to disclose short positions in their 13F filings (except for Put positions), we are left in the dark on that one. But, anyways, onto the sales. Griffin was selling some consumer names in Netflix (NFLX) and Walmart (WMT). He only sold 20-30% of his positions there so it could just be some profit taking or position size reducing... nothing too major going on. We'll keep an eye on it next quarter and see if he continues to sell those names. Two quarters ago, as I detailed in my Blue Ridge analysis here, we saw that Griffin was starting to sell Coach (COH), Formfactor (FORM), and Smurfit Stone (SSCC). This past quarter, he continued that trend, selling off all the remaining shares in those companies. Additionally, he sold off 66% of his Crocs (CROX) position, which I'm sure was a source of pain for him, given how those shares have plummeted in value over time. Next quarter, it will be interesting to see whether or not he sells off the 'cheap consumer' plays such as Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT).

Griffin also completely removed America Movil (AMX) from Blue Ridge's portfolio. This is interesting, as this is the 2nd hedge fund so far we've seen completely sell out of this name. (Remember that AMX used to be one of the most common holdings amongst the various hedge funds I track). The stock has been in a downward spiral for numerous months and it appears that numerous hedge funds were the ones responsible for the exodus. In the coming week, we'll see what Griffin's 'Tiger Cub' buddies were up to with their respective AMX positions as well.

Also worth pointing out is that Griffin quickly sold out of Burlington Northern (BNI) completely. In the last 13F filing, we found out he had just added BNI as a new position. And, this time around, we find out that he has quickly sold out. This struck me as somewhat odd, just because practically all hedge funds I track have some sort of exposure to the rails. Maybe Griffin was just locking in some quick profits, or maybe there was something that turned him away from the name. Interesting move, nonetheless. Griffin also had a short stay in Office Depot (ODP). He sold completely out of his position this past quarter, having only added it as a new position in the last 13F filing.

Lastly, I just wanted to point out some of the larger positions that Blue Ridge continues to hold in their portfolio: Millipore (MIL), Covanta (CVA), Grupo Televisa (TV), and Charles Schwab (SCHW). These positions have been top 10 holdings for Blue Ridge for numerous quarters now and are definitely worth a look as they appear to be longer term plays for Griffin.

Blue Ridge Capital's most interesting/peculiar move(s)?
Increasing their stake in Fannie Mae (FNM) by over 1100%, bringing it up to 2.77% of the portfolio. (Keep in mind that these positions were as of June 30th, 2008). I only bring this up due to the recent developments in FNM and FRE. Whether it be for a trade or for an investment, John Griffin was definitely up to something here and we can only speculate as to what he's been doing with this position in the past month and a half.

You can view Blue Ridge Capital's most recent 13F as filed with the SEC here.


Tune in during the rest of the week as I continue to detail the portfolio changes of some well known hedge funds. Funds I'll be looking at the rest of the week: Maverick Capital (Lee Ainslie), Lone Pine Capital (Steven Mandel), and Atticus Capital (Timothy Barakett).


Mark said...

Definitely must be making the money from the short side, not the long side - nothing too remarkable or market beating on the long side.

Its strange they dont require short positions listed - oh yes, if they had to than all the naked shorts would have to be covered 1 day before each quarter and we've had huge upswings lol.

No, I'm serious. Just imagine if in 10 big hedge funds you had more shorts sold than available. That would be caught so quickly and then the whole game is over.

Anyhow... this one has to be making money on the short side if they are having a good year.

p.s. where do you get your info about how the hedge funds are doing each quarter?

market folly said...

yea thats the downside with looking at all the 'tiger cub' funds. they most definitely have a lot of short positions but we can't see them since they dont use puts, they're straight short selling.

and for the performance info i have a variety of resources. some i get from investors in the funds, some i get from the fund "prospectus"/fund info they send to prospective investors with their past returns. and then there's a few people who have access to that info who provide me it whenever they see it in passing or something.

bloomberg actually has it sometimes too.. they go the same route. (through anonymous investors in the funds who disclose the info.)

Mark said...


Not as "near perfect and awesome" as J makes them out to be ;)

Daniel Loeb, CEO of the $5.6 billion New York–based activist hedge fund firm Third Point, has revealed in a letter to investors that his funds had suffered from a sharp reversal in energy and financial stocks during the first three full weeks of July, sustaining losses “in the high single digits” that effectively erased all of its gains for the quarter.

p.s. new SEC rules might force short disclosure - just out today

I doubt it due to political influence by hedge funds increasing but we can hope.

Man you must have a lot of rich friends to know so many "investors" in funds!