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Financial Literacy

Form 13F: A “Cheat Sheet” for Uncovering the Best Stocks in the Market

Your level of success as an investor typically boils down to how well you can do one thing – analyze business fundamentals.

That’s because, regardless of what the economy and the stock market are doing, companies that are increasing sales, compounding earnings at high rates, growing market share, improving operating margins, paying down debt and buying back shares of their own company will eventually deliver excellent returns.

Sounds simple, right? Well, considering that in the United States alone there are about 15,000 publicly traded companies, maybe not.

With so many businesses to invest in, uncovering the best ones can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Especially in today’s stock market environment.

But I’m writing you today because it doesn’t have to be so difficult.

Truth is, there’s a little-known “cheat sheet” that can tell you within seconds which stocks should be on your radar. And you don’t need to use a stock screener or pay anyone to tell you where to find them.

They’re called Form 13F filings.

An Easy Way to Uncover Winning Stocks

Form 13F is a quarterly report that money managers with over $100 million in equity holdings must file with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Basically, it’s a free glimpse into what the most successful money managers and investors are buying and selling each quarter.

And it can give you insight into companies and industries you may never have considered investing in before.

For instance, just last week, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) filed its Form 13F from the second quarter.

Among the highlights:

  • For the first time ever, the company initiated buys in two oil companies, Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) and National-Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV).
  • After buying 9.3 million shares last year – worth over $200 million – of Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Berkshire completely sold out of its position.
  • The company added to its positions in Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), IBM (NYSE: IBM), DaVita (NYSE: DVA), Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK), DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV), Viacom (Nasdaq: VIAB) and Liberty Media Corporation (Nasdaq: LMCA).
  • Berkshire cut back its holdings in Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Kraft (Nasdaq: KFT), United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), Visa (NYSE: V), CVS (NYSE: CVS), GE (NYSE: GE) and Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE: IR).

Getting Aggressive

Take a close look at the companies that Buffett added to and cut back.

Do you see how he’s moving cash out of defensive stocks and into more-aggressive ones?

Today, over half of Berkshire’s portfolio is weighted in either financials or technology.

These aren’t industries to invest in when the roof is about to cave in.

In fact, over the last quarter, shares of J&J were cut back so far that it’s no longer even a top 10 holding for Berkshire.

It was replaced for the most part by none other than DirecTV, the No. 1 provider of satellite television in the United States and Latin America.

I’d bet DirecTV isn’t a company you’d normally consider in today’s market environment.

But you may be surprised to know that the company is up a solid 19% this year alone.

Form 13F: A “Cheat Sheet” for Uncovering the Best Stocks in the Market

And it’s exactly the kind of gem I described above.

DirecTV is growing sales at 9.5% per quarter, its overall customer base is growing, it’s buying back shares, its earnings and margins are expanding, and it’s looking to tap into new industries such as the broadband wireless market in Brazil.

Berkshire’s aggressive moves in its 13F filing seem to indicate that Buffett feels U.S. consumer discretionary stocks are cheap and the recovery is about to pick up.

But Buffett is just one example.

You can follow the moves of any big-time money manager who better reflects how you feel about the economy and the markets with 13F filings.

John Paulson and George Soros are two of the most famous examples of money managers putting their money into gold assets instead of U.S. equities.

Either way, 13Fs are a great tool to find out where the big players in the market are putting their cash today.

Good Investing,

Mike

Editor’s Note: One of my favorite websites that tracks 13Fs is called WhaleWisdom.com. Each quarter they construct a heat map of the most popular stocks among hedge funds. For the 13F heat map from the most recent quarter, click here.


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