The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
By James Brumley
NEW YORK (
StreetAuthority) -- It's that time of year again, when investment managers are required to disclose their fund's holdings to the SEC, and by extension, to all investors. And for most investment companies and hedge funds, it's a pretty straight-forward process . . . just make a list of all the stocks you own, and how much of them you own.
If you're Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn, however, it's not quite that simple. With Einhorn's willingness to hold short as well as long positions (not to mention his willingness to speak out about them) in the $7 billion hedge fund, it's a bit of a process to truly figure out what he's thinking, or trading.
On the other hand, considering his fund has returned an average of 21% per year for the past 15 years, sifting through the data is worth the effort.
What Einhorn Likes
Of course, closed trades are history and don't offer investors any new specific coattails to ride. The best clues traders can glean from Greenlight's exits last quarter are to look at what he bought.
There were only three new positions added in the first quarter, in addition to only three existing trades that were bolstered.
Einhorn increased his stake in information services firm
) by 39% to a total position of about 1.5 million shares, while the fund's stake in semiconductor maker
Marvell Technology Group
and data storage firm
both saw a very modest amount of new money thrown in -- nothing noteworthy on either front.
As for the brand new positions, eyebrows may have been raised, but he may well be on to something good.
The biggest addition was the 1-million-share, $33 million position in online travel booking site
In retrospect, it was a brilliant a trade. The stock jumped from $32.63 to $40.30 on April 27 after the company handily topped earnings estimates of 16 cents per share by posting a gain of 26 cents. Clearly it was a nice call, but given Einhorn's active nature, odds are decent that he's already aiming to lock in the 25% gain.