Billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn previously received fawning financial press for short selling Allied Capital, Lehman Brothers and Green Mountain Coffee stocks.

The summa cum laude from Cornell University is currently focusing on three surprise stocks, listed below. 

Why the big recent bets on these three stocks? Let's see if they should be a part of your long-term wealth building strategy.

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CNX

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1. Consol Energy (CNX) - Get Report

Consol Energy is a hard asset company that's on its way to becoming a natural gas exploration and production firm. Fiscal 2015 has been a terrible year for the stock with nearly 75% of its price eroded.

The third quarter saw profit forecasts being missed though its revenues topped estimates. So, why then did Einhorn pick up the stock?

The principal reason could be that Consol is gradually getting out of coal and exploring more natural gas options. Consol's strategy, to hedge over 50% of natural gas exposure is pretty smart. The company is expecting good earnings growth in the next two years (2016 and 2017), as it ushers in the turnaround.

From an operational standpoint, it's ramping up efficiency, squeezing costs and running its business safely. If we look at valuations, the company looks cheap after the steep decline this year. It trades at a price-to-book value of 0.4-times (at a five-year low) compared to Chesapeake Energy (almost 3-times), Southwestern Energy (about 0.7-times) and Cabot Oil & Gas (around 3.35-times).

So, Einhorn seems right about this stock, making it well suited as an investment choice in 2016 as you re-position your core growth portfolio.

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AER

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2. AerCap Holdings N.V. (AER) - Get Report

AerCap Holdings NV provides aircraft leasing and aviation finance services.

The company has been on a robust growth trajectory with a three-year average revenue upswing of 49% and net income rise of over 67%.

The industry's stats in the same time are 16.3% for revenue growth and 57% for net income rise. The company boasts of sharply higher net margin of nearly 23% (trailing twelve months) compared to the industry figure of 13.4%.

The company's return on assets and equity beat industry averages -- probably why the 7.4 times forward earnings price-to-earnings ratio may seem unjustified.

What could have piqued Einhorn's interest further is that despite its good earnings show, AerCap has hardly done anything exciting over the past one year -- it's up 6% -- in terms of stock movement, compared to the industry (up 13.6%) on a total returns basis.

AER promises solid value compared to peers such as Atlas Air Worldwide (trading at 99.2 times forward earnings), Air Transport Services (9.3 times), FLY Leasing (7.1 times), Air Lease Corp Class A (8.2 times) and Aircastle (about 9.7 times).

There have been a few nagging worries about the slowdown in global growth, hinting that the rally in aircraft valuations may be coming to an end.

However, the company ended the third quarter with total assets of $43 billion. The world's largest aircraft lessor's net spread reached $892 million in the third quarter. This represents a healthy annual net interest margin of 9.8%. A comfortable liquidity position, conservative approach towards balance sheet management, and solid operating cash flows ($796 million in the third quarter) make this a stable stock to bank on.

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UIL

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3. UIL Holdings Corporation (UIL)

UIL Holdings Corp, another Einhorn pick, operates electric distribution, transmission and other natural resource distributional activities. It sports a hefty dividend yield of 3.52%, while the slow growth standards of the industry shouldn't really excite investors.

The Connecticut-based company's plan to combine with the U.S. assets of Spain's Iberdrola is likely to have influenced Einhorn's decision to back the stock.

The Iberdrola U.S. business runs regulated utility assets in the Northeast. It also boasts of a robust blueprint of wind projects. UIL shareholders, after the closing, will receive $10.50 in cash per share of UIL they own and one share in a new publicly listed company. A large tax asset base and renewable cash flow capabilities are also some of the other big benefits.

After meeting third-quarter forecasts, analysts have penciled in $2.56 EPS for full year 2016 (after $2.38 EPS in 2015). Trading at 19.20 times forward earnings, UIL boasts better growth rates (3.2% average 3-year net income growth) compared to the industry's at 2.6%, or compared to peers Southern (three-year average net income growth -3.6%) trading at 15 times forward earnings and American Electric Power Co. (-5.7% average net income growth in three years) available at less than 15 times forward earnings.

Billionaire David Einhorn seems to be making the right investment moves. But are YOU making the right investment moves? There are crucial steps that you should be taking now, to build wealth over the long haul. To find out whether you'll have enough money in your later years, download our free report: Your Ultimate Retirement Guide.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.