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09:02 el 19 agosto 2014

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George Soros se mantiene defensivo

Hola buenos días. Viendo que los mercados están muy cambiantes y que muchos inversores llaman a la cautela, he leído este interesante artículo del WSJ que os copio. Saludos, MC

Soros not only investor playing defense

Published: Aug 18, 2014 4:19 p.m. ET

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Energy plays prove popular in 13F filings.

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — George Soros isn’t the only big-shot investor who seems to be suffering from a bit of a backache. The question is whether it’s just a twinge or something more serious.

Soros, whose astounding long-term success as a trader has reportedly been shaped at least in small part by his reactions to physical discomfort, raised eyebrows when a regulatory filing on Thursday showed he had significanty upped his holdings of puts on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF SPY, +0.84%

As you may recall, Soros reported that he held nearly 11.3 million puts on the ETF as of June 30, a position with a market value of more than $2.2 billion. That was a 605% rise from the end of the first quarter and made the stake his largest single position, constituting nearly 17% of his total portfolio. See also: Big investors dump GM, but love Ally and Why Ally Financial may be a better bet.

George Soros
That is the biggest such put position Soros has had since 2008, noted Raul Moreno, chief executive of iBillionaire, an index that tracks investment choices by big investors, including the likes of Soros, Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn.

So in a portfolio that’s around 80% long equities, the position appears clearly to be a hedge rather than an outright bet on a market fall, Moreno said. Still, the size of the position would seem to indicate Soros had grown more worried about the potential for a pullback, Moreno said in a phone interview.

Maz Jadallah, founder of AlphaClone, a research firm that collects, aggregates and clones data from 13F filings, emphasized that while the shift indicates Soros believes the risk of a pullback has increased, it shouldn’t be read to indicate he is betting on one. In fact, the data shows Soros’s long exposure increased by 9% over the second quarter, a time when the S&P 500 rose 5%.

Michael Vachon, the spokesman for Soros Fund Management, said the increase in put holdings was “not a story.”

Moreno also flagged a new, bearish position on home builders reported by Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management. The fund’s 13F showed that it held 23.5 million put options on the S&P Homebuilders ETF XHB, +1.83%  as of June 30. The position, with a market value of nearly $770 million, is the fund’s top holding, accounting for 9.8% of the total portfolio value. See: Want to invest like Buffett and Soros? Try this.

Plenty of investors, including Icahn and Appaloosa Management’s David Tepper, have issued warnings about potentially frothy stock values. Icahn warned last week of a “major asset bubble,” while Tepper suggested earlier this year that it might be appropriate for bulls to take some money off the table. But overall, those investors had largely maintained their positions, at least through the second quarter, Moreno said.

Not ‘running for the hills’
Indeed, Jadallah argued that big investors showed little sign of a defensive bias, noting that in addition to Soros, other big hedge funds also saw their long exposure rise. Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates saw long exposure increase by 9%, he said, while John Burbank’s Passport Capital increased long exposure by 44%.

“That doesn’t look like they’re running for the hills,” Jadallah said in emailed comments.

Still, there were some signs of defensiveness in the overall 13F patterns, Moreno said, including increased interest in the traditionally defensive energy sector.

Icahn, for example, boosted his stake in CVR Energy Inc. CVI, +1.41%  by 8% to a total of nearly 77.2 million shares as of the end of the second quarter. The stock was the fourth-largest holding in Icahn’s portfolio with a value of around $3.58 billion.

“We have seen an increase in energy stocks, particularly those with a high dividend yield, and we see them as some protection against a potential downfall,” Moreno said.

At the same time, Moreno said the billionaire investors he tracks don’t seem to be as worried about the economy or a downturn in consumer discretionary spending. In addition to energy, big investors are still placing bets on the information technology and consumer discretionary sectors, two sectors that are particularly sensitive to economic swings.

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