John Paulson’s Favorite Themes Are Discount Retail, Domestic Energy and FedEx

While John Paulson’s name is synonymous with outsized bets on mortgage-backed securities and gold, he also runs a fairly large equity portfolio at Paulson & Co, and it’s worth tracking. After looking through his third quarter 13F and comparing it with historical data, here are a few trends we noticed.

PAULSON & CO


Love for Family Dollar. John Paulson’s top non-ETF holding is in Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO), which it upped by 50% last quarter. The discount retailer is benefiting from a store redesign initiative in the midst of a recovering economy, and most analysts expect it to benefit from more regionalized product offerings going forward. Margins are trending in a positive direction and earnings growth is healthy—at a reasonable PEG near 1.5—and the dividend yield of 1.5% can be upped considerably. Judging by the fact that Paulson tends to select his equity investments based on a macro perspective, we think he’ll be here for a while, unless his viewpoint on retail discount chains changes drastically.

New energy bets. Another area where Paulson doesn’t get enough credit is the energy sector. In the third quarter, the billionaire built new positions in Whiting Petroleum (NYSE:WLL) and Oasis Petroleum (NYSE:OAS). Both are growing players in the domestic natural gas industry, and the latter has a particular focus on unconventional oil and gas opportunities. Whiting and Oasis are up by an average of about 55% year-to-date and offer more expansion upside than their larger cap peers, and both trade at forward earnings multiples below 15 times. As with Paulson’s other bets, it appears he’s chosen to play a general bullishness on domestic energy with Whiting and Oasis, so we don’t expect the general sentiment to shift any time soon.

Getting out of Elan, Mead Johnson. A couple interesting moves Paulson made last quarter were closures of his stakes in Mead Johnson (NYSE:MJN) and Elan Corp (NYSE:ELN). Elan is a diversified biotech and medical research company, while Mead Johnson is famous for its pediatric nutrition products, primarily baby food.

Don’t forget about FedEx. Lastly, we don’t think you should forget about FedEx (NYSE:FDX). This was a new position for Paulson last quarter, who joined fellow billionaires George Soros and Dan Loeb in the stock. If Loeb, in particular, is able to stimulate any activism from FedEx management, expect Paulson and Soros to place more passive capital behind the freight and logistics company. Keep an eye on this trio of hedge fund managers very closely.

Disclosure: none

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