Ever wonder what toothpaste your dentist uses or who is
For investors, knowing fund managers' top picks is like talking crooners with Mr. Bennett.
Everybody would like to know what stocks are tops with managers at top fund shops, but that's tough to find out. Fund companies are notoriously secretive when it comes to their holdings because they fear rogue traders might trade ahead of them and reduce their returns.
But sometimes you can get a fleeting glance behind the veil. Fund companies share their firm-wide holdings with regulators quarterly, and looking at this list can be the equivalent of knocking on the door of every portfolio manager in the company and asking what stocks they like most.
Below are the top-10 holdings of Boston fund titan
as of the end of June. With $252.9 billion in its stock and bond funds on June 30, Putnam is the fourth-largest fund firm, according to Boston fund consultant
. It is also the second-best-selling firm through the first half of the year, trailing only
Before we delve into the list, keep in mind it's not a buy list. Rather, it might reinforce your decisions if you own one of these stocks or spur some ideas if you're looking for a big-cap stock that some savvy pros have wrapped their arms around.
Also keep in mind that the firm's holdings have been in flux since the end of June, though these positions don't necessarily change in a hurry due to their sizes.
The amount invested in each of these 10 stocks ranges from $3 billion up to $5.4 billion, according to
, a Web site that tracks institutional stock ownership. The average stock fund has $400 million in assets, according to
, so these are probably longer-term investments because it would take a long time to whittle them down.
The reason to look at Putnam's biggest holdings is that the company has made many more good calls than bad. Growth funds like
Putnam New Opportunities and
Putnam Voyager have built the firm's reputation for solid stock picking.
"They're a smart shop that's had a lot of success, particularly with growth
funds," says Russel Kinnel, director of fund analysis at Morningstar.
But some of the stocks on this list are more intriguing than others. Giant companies like
are all among the top components of the
index and other key benchmarks. Not having these stocks as top core holdings would be a risky bet since so many competing funds and important benchmarks -- the yardsticks of every fund's performance -- include them.
"With those stocks it's clear that they like them, but not to what degree," he says.
He says the firm's really interesting picks are cable TV concern
-- stocks that aren't in the top 10 of the S&P 500.
"I think they're the ones they're betting on," he says.
There's also something to be gleaned by considering some names that are tops in the S&P 500 but aren't on this list, Kinnel says.
are all in the top 20 of the S&P 500, but were nowhere in Putnam's top 50 at the end of June, according to bigdough.com.
There you have it, a big shop's biggest holdings. Like going to the record store with a short list by Tony Bennett, shopping for stocks with these in the back of your mind might not be a bad idea these days.