Alcon has two great things going for it -- a great return on equity (ROE) and impressive free cash flow. Alcon's ROE is an industry-leading 33.6%, while last year's free cash flow was an impressive $2.93 per share.
2. America Movil S.A.B. (AMX - Get Report)The endowment also owns a nice collection of foreign telecom stocks, the biggest being America Movil, the Latin American wireless giant. It's a prototypical emerging-market name Harvard's fund managers tend to seek out.
America Movil is priced a little more palatably than Alcon, at only 15 times its trailing earnings and looks even juicier at 12.1 times projected 2011 earnings. That may not be the biggest reason why the endowment now owns $30 million worth, nor is it solely why the portfolio increased its position by 36% last quarter. No, America Movil likely caught the attention of the endowment's pros after it posted six consecutive annual earnings increases. It's on pace for a seventh this year.
Some of those improving quarters were better than others, to be sure, but the company's stale growth between 2007 and 2010 appears to truly be a thing of the past. This year's anticipated 27% increase in the bottom line is set to be the strongest growth pace since 2007.
3 & 4: Southeast Asia, BrazilFinally, one of the Harvard endowment fund's biggest positions is its $200 million stake in the iShares MSCI Pacific ex-Japan Fund (EPP). That being said, it's worth noting the fund's managers have allocated almost as much money to the iShares Brazil Fund (EWZ). At last look, about $187 million of the $27 billion portfolio (about 0.7%) was invested in the Brazil ETF, making it the biggest country-specific holding in the endowment.
The picks speak for themselves -- they're bets that the Pacific Rim countries and the South American powerhouse, most of which could be considered emerging market names, appear better positioned for growth than other geopolitical areas. Its interest in Brazil is one I explored and agreed with just a few days ago.Action to Take: Sometimes it pays to directly poach the picks of a team of stock-pickers who have more than proven their worth. Other times, investors can be better served by just borrowing the themes and underlying ideas of professional fund managers.