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TheStreet Open House

Invest Like Billionaire Carlos Slim Helu

In 2008, Slim began buying shares of New York Times (NYT), eventually becoming the media firm's largest shareholder outside of the Sulzberger family. At present, Slim's nearly 10 million shares are valued at more than $90 million.

The move was an interesting one for Slim because of its timing. The billionaire bought shares of the troubled stock during one of the worst bear markets in the market's history. He's since increased his stakes in the stock, making a $250 million loan to Times last year in an attempt to improve the company's liquidity amid declining revenues and waning profitability. Efforts to better monetize Times' online properties will come to bare in 2011, when the company adopts a paid model for NYTimes.com.

New York Times' fortunes are far from certain at the moment, but a tough market for print media and a highly leveraged balance sheet will continue to plague investors who are hoping for a more bullish perspective on the stock. At least they've got one of the world's most prescient investors in their corner.

Carlos Slim Helu also owns a stake in Philip Morris International (PM), a company for which he is also a director. According to filings with the SEC, Slim's stake in the company is estimated to be around $16 million.

Philip Morris is a major player in the tobacco industry, with almost 16% of the world's cigarette market. The company, which spun off from Altria (MO) back in 2008, owns the international rights to some of the world's most well-known tobacco brands, including Marlboro, Parliament and L&M. But the flagship is clearly Marlboro, a storied name that contributed 35% of Philip Morris International's sales volume last year.

This company's biggest focus right now is in the emerging markets. While Western Europe currently contributes around half of Philip Morris' revenue, Europe's tight regulation and oversaturated market are proving to be a challenging environment to operate in. Cigarette growth in markets such as China is much more appealing -- the company's joint venture with China National Tobacco should give them an appealing "in" to the Chinese marketplace.

Who Else Owns Philip Morris?

To see the rest of Carlos Slim Helu's plays check out the Carlos Slim Helu Portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.

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Jonas Elmerraji is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on MSNBC.com.
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