BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Hedge funds that manage more than $100 million are required to disclose their quarterly holdings to the Securities and Exchange Commission, allowing average investors to see the investment ideas of some of the top money managers.Appaloosa Management is run by David Tepper, former high-yield bond trader at Goldman Sachs ( GS). He has consistently achieved outstanding returns by investing in distressed companies. Appaloosa's four funds, Appaloosa, Palamino and Thoroughbred onshore and offshore, doubled during 2009, boosted by purchases of financial industry debt, preferred securities and stocks, including Bank of America ( BAC) and Citigroup ( C) at March lows. To go along with his Bank of America and Citigroup shares, Tepper added a position in Wells Fargo ( WFC) during the first quarter. Despite Appaloosa's concentration in financials, new themes are emerging in its portfolio. Tepper purchased airlines AMR ( AMR), Delta ( DAL), US Airways ( LCC) and UAL ( UAUA) during the fourth quarter and most recently added Continental Airlines ( CAL). Tepper has also been purchasing large-caps. He bought stakes in Dow Jones Industrial Average drugmakers Merck ( MRK), Pfizer ( PFE) and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) during the quarter while retaining a stake in software giant Microsoft ( MSFT). He also scooped up shares of Yahoo! ( YHOO) and call options on shipping company UPS ( UPS). Large-cap value is a common thesis at hedge funds. Tepper also expanded into the energy realm. He sees value in refining stocks, particularly those that have lagged U.S. indices during the past year. He procured shares of Valero Energy ( VLO), Tesoro ( TSO) and Sunoco ( SUN) during the first quarter. To complement his purchase of UPS, Tepper added small-cap logistics, trucking and marine transport names American Commercial Lines ( ACLI), Arkansas Best ( ABFS), Con-way ( CNW) and YRC Worldwide ( YRCW). These small-caps are undervalued, but cyclically dependent. If the U.S. economic recovery picks up steam, then they are likely to outperform the market.
Paulson & Co. is run by John Paulson, famous for earning billions by shorting the subprime mortgage market. More recently, he has been stigmatized for allegedly selecting the weak collateralized debt obligations involved in the Goldman Sachs ( GS) Abacus transaction. The SEC has accused Goldman Sachs of defrauding investors by selling the CDOs without adequately disclosing potential risks or Paulson's short interest. Paulson has been remarkably attuned to profitable investment themes during the past few years. Following his subprime windfall, he booked sizable gains on short sales of British banks Barclays ( BCS) and RBS ( RBS). And, like David Tepper, he accumulated financial shares at March lows. Lately, Paulson has executed due diligence in bankruptcy court. He assisted in the restructuring of Houghton Mifflin in February. During the first quarter, he converted a debt position in yellow-page publisher SuperMedia ( SPMD - Get Report), formerly Idearc, into common shares. SuperMedia declared bankruptcy in March 2009 and Paulson entered into a stand-by purchase agreement this fall, offering bondholders cash in exchange for their equity in the restructured company. His stake totals 17% of the float. SuperMedia equity positions were disclosed in the quarterly filings of Moore Capital Management, Anchorage Advisors and Citadel, among others. Paulson also purchased shares of Dex One ( DEXO), formerly R.H. Donnelly, a yellow-page printer that, like SuperMedia, just emerged from Chapter 11. His stake comprises 7% of shares outstanding. Other hedge funds involved in the SuperMedia deal are also holders of Dex One. Both companies' stocks trade at massive discounts, roughly 90% based on projected earnings, to media industry averages. The risk-reward proposition in the shares is lofty. Paulson became a gold bug in 2010. He held more than 31 million shares of the SPDR Gold Trust at the end of the first quarter and initiated positions in Barrick Gold ( ABX), Iamgold ( IAG), Novagold ( NG) and Randgold ( GOLD). The metal hit a record high on May 12, but has recently declined on European debt woes and a strengthening dollar. Paulson started positions in oil-and-gas explorers Apache ( APA) and Devon Energy ( DVN) and oilfield services company Smith International ( SII). He also bought casino stocks Boyd Gaming ( BOYD) and MGM Mirage ( MGM), and homebuilder Beazer Homes USA ( BZH). He now ranks as Boyd's fourth-largest shareholder, MGM's second-largest and Beazer's largest. He built positions of comparable size in generic drug company Mylan ( MYL), software designer Novell ( NOVL) and discount retailer Family Dollar Stores ( FDO). Paulson has committed billions to these transactions and, considering the magnitude of his wagers, appears confident about return potential.
Greenlight Capital and its manager David Einhorn haven't received much attention since the stock-market bottom. Einhorn employs a long-short value strategy. He's famous for his short sales of Allied Capital ( AFC) and now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers. Einhorn's three funds returned more than 30% during 2009, net of fees. Since its 1996 inception, his flagship fund has returned 22% a year, net of fees. In the first quarter, he held stakes in medical device makers Becton Dickinson ( BDX), CareFusion ( CFN) and Cardinal Health ( CAH) and server and cloud-computing company EMC ( EMC). Einhorn initiated positions in five noteworthy stocks during the quarter, regional bank Flagstar Bancorp ( FBC), brand manager Iconix Brand ( ICON - Get Report), specialized homebuilder NVR ( NVR - Get Report), insurer Symetra Financial ( SYA) and copier maker Xerox ( XRX - Get Report). The small-cap positions are of greatest interest because the large-cap value trade is beginning to look a bit crowded. Xerox, for example, has returned 34% during the past year and trades at an earnings multiple of 20. On the other hand, Flagstar Bancorp, which operates banks in Michigan and Indiana, sells for 42 cents a share and a price-to-book ratio of 0.6, a 53% discount to its peer average. The company has suffered seven consecutive quarterly losses and its stock has plummeted 61% during the past year. It tapped the equity markets for additional capital in the first quarter and several insiders have purchased shares in the past few weeks. Iconix Brand is an equally compelling company, with an unusual business model. Iconix owns a portfolio of fashion and home brands, which it licenses to clothing and footwear manufacturers. This is a low-risk, low-cost, high-margin model. Iconix achieved a first-quarter operating margin of 69% and a net profit margin of 37%. Of course, its business is tied directly to the relevance of its brands. But with a portfolio that includes Mudd, Joe Boxer, London Fog and Rocawear, Iconix is on the safe side of hip. Its first-quarter revenue grew 41% and its net income surged 53%, auguring well for near-term growth. Einhorn's homebuilding pick NVR is positioned to benefit in a tough economy. It builds single-family detached homes, townhouses and condominium buildings in metropolitan areas, specifically around Baltimore and Washington D.C. It also operates as a mortgage banker. First-quarter profit soared 78% to $32 million, or $5.01 a share, as revenue grew 5.6%. Appaloosa Management, Paulson & Co. and Greenlight Capital all own shares of Pfizer, which is now a consensus value pick among Dow stocks. -- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston.