Stockpickr) -- Even if you don't have a pension, pension funds could help pad your retirement portfolio with cash.
Don't follow? Allow me to explain.
The days of the common pension are behind us. For a handful of reasons, most Americans shouldn't expect to get a pension as part of their jobs. There are plenty of reasons why so many companies have done away with defined benefit plans for employees: They're expensive, complicated and potentially risky for employers who plan wrong. But if you think that there isn't a lot of cash being managed by pension funds these days, you'd be dead wrong.
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Today, pensions big enough to report to the SEC manage a combined $384 billion. That's more money than most asset managers handle -- particularly when you consider that the pension portfolios are concentrated into just 37 different funds.
So back to our original question: How can a pension help you earn retirement returns even if you don't have one? Simple. With a huge concentration of cash, pension funds employ talented investment teams with serious institutional investing resources. And by taking a look at the investments pensions are piling up on for their own retirees, we can take advantage of some of that talent for ourselves. To do that, we've got to crack some 13F filings.
Institutional investors with more than $100 million in assets are required to file a 13F -- a form that breaks down their stock positions for public consumption. From hedge funds to mutual funds to insurance companies, any professional investors who manage more than that $100 million watermark are required to file a 13F. That includes pension funds.
By comparing one quarter's filing with another, we can see how any single fund manager is moving their portfolio around -- and what investments are faring the best for them. More important, we can figure out what names are getting added to pension portfolios
; they're the stocks that the group agrees are worth buying.
Today, we'll focus on
pension funds' five favorite stocks
for the first quarter of 2012.