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Soros Management opens positions in dry bulk shippers, Q3 2013

Soros Management opens positions in dry bulk shippers, Q3 2013 (Part 1 of 5)

Why Soros Management has moved into dry bulk shippers in Q3 2013

George Soros

George Soros, like Warren Buffett, is one of the most admired investors in the world. His Quantum Fund’s 32% annualized return is admired by many investment professionals, analysts, students, and investors. But note that Soros’s investment strategy differs quite a bit from Buffett’s.

Soros Fund's Shipping Investment 2013-11-22Enlarge Graph

While Warren Buffett has put up a strong track record by buying valuable companies and holding them over long periods, Soros made his fortune by betting large on macro events through bonds and currencies, holding positions over the short to medium term.

Moving into dry bulk shippers

That might be why dry bulk shippers were attractive to the legendary investor. In Soros Management’s most recent 13-F holding, we found that six of his recent additions included dry bulk shipping companies: DryShips Inc. (DRYS), Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. (NM), Navios Maritime Partners LP (NMM), Safe Bulkers Inc. (SB), Diana Shipping Inc. (DSX), and Baltic Trading Ltd. (BALT). Since shipping companies are largely driven by rates set by the market, shipping stocks rise and fall primarily because of where shipping rates are expected to head over the next few months and quarters.

Not-so-small positions

Relative Soros’s portfolio, these positions were small. But don’t let that fool you because quite a few of these shipping companies are trading below $1 billion in market cap. These are much smaller than other positions that Soros holds, which includes Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google (GOOG), and Microsoft (MSFT).

If we aggregate all these shipping companies’ positions together, take into account that dry bulk shippers have smaller market cap, and consider the fact that company CEOs hold a significant portion of total shares outstanding (this reduces liquidity in the market), these new positions are quite significant.

Yet the market isn’t all that enthusiastic about the fund’s stake in dry bulk shippers, while it has been for Soros’s Microsoft stakes and Buffett’s Exxon Mobile stakes.

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