By Meena Krishnamsetty and Matt Doiron
This article originally said the SEC is investigating Linn Energy’s potential purchase of Berry Petroleum. In fact, the SEC is conducting an informal probe into its potential purchase of Berry Petroleum.
We maintain a database of quarterly 13F filings from hundreds of hedge funds, including billionaire Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisors, as part of our work researching investment strategies (for example, we have found that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds earn an average excess return of 18 percentage points per year). We also like to see which stocks top managers have owned for the last couple of years, on the basis that even though the information in 13Fs is a bit old by now (Omega's most recent filing discloses many of its long equity positions as of the end of March) chances are the fund hasn't made major changes to most of these long term holdings. Read on for our thoughts on the five largest positions in Cooperman's portfolio from the most recent filing that he had owned at least $60 million of at the end of March 2011 (or see the full list of the fund's stock picks over time).
Omega reported a position of about 15 million shares in SLM Corp SLM -0.85% , or "Sallie Mae." Markets are valuing the education lender fairly conservatively, with the stock currently trading at 10 times forward earnings estimates (this is with Wall Street analyst consensus calling for a decline in earnings per share in 2014). Sallie Mae has seen increased revenue and earnings, though some investors are worrying about potential delinquencies in the market. D.E. Shaw, a hedge fund managed by billionaire David Shaw, is another filer on our database which has a large position in the stock.
Cooperman and other Linn Energy LINE -0.32% shareholders (the stock was one of his five largest holdings at the end of the first quarter of 2013) are currently down over 30% year to date following the company's announcement that the SEC is conducting an informal probe into its potential purchase of Berry Petroleum BRY -0.98% . Linn Energy, a $6.5 billion market cap oil and gas company, recently switched to monthly distributions of 24.2 cents per share from quarterly distributions of 72.5 cents per share. That makes for a 10.7% annual yield at current prices, but given the company’s troubles we would avoid it anyway.
There may be security laws bearing on what LINE can say going into an earning release next week. One wonders what would have happened if no investors complained, the article stood for days with all kind of comments pointing out the error. In any case, obviously their standards of journalism stink, given how simple it would have been to get the facts right in the first place, all that was available in a couple of clicks.