The 13F filings should all be in by now and as was expected, all the big guys are getting lots of coverage. There is zero value added in me telling you that John Paulson has a lot of gold and is buying mortgage servicing companies. It's all over the web.
I follow Seth Klarman but I do not need to add my voice to the chorus singing about his latest purchases of AIG (AIG) and BP (BP). You will be hard pressed to avoid the money moves of the big guys if you read or own a TV. It was not that long ago that it took hours during 13F week to dig out all the information but it is blasted out as fast as it is filed these days.
There are still a few old-fashioned value guys who receive little attention from the press, but have been a source of profitable ideas over the years. Michael Price does not get a lot of coverage now because he no longer runs a multi-billion dollar mutual fund complex, but he does still manage money. His hedge fund, MFP Partners, is still around, buying cheap stocks with a margin of safety and earning solid returns.
With the market in what seems to be an everlasting up move, I checked first to see what he is selling into strength. MFP gave up on Excelis (XLS), the defense and telecommunications contractor spun off from ITT (ITT). The stock still looks cheap on an earnings basis but defense spending cuts are an issue for the company. He also called it quits on Conoco Phillips (COP) and on SeaChange International (SEAC), two stocks he has held for a while. Price trimmed a few positions in the quarter, but was not a big seller into the rally.
He continues to be a buyer of small community banks. I find it reassuring that I am not the only value -oriented investor who thinks these little banks have a strong future. He added two more banks to his portfolio this week. One is showing up all over the board and was also purchased by Paul Isaac of Arbiter Partners among other noted investors. Northfield Bank Corp. (NFBK) is located on Staten Island, N.Y., and completed a second-step conversion process in January. The stock trades at about 85% of book and post conversion has equity-to-assets ratio of almost 20. The balance sheet is solid with non-performing assets at just 1.31% of total assets.
The fund also picked up a new position in shares of United Financial Bancorp (UBNK), a Massachusetts based bank with 22 branches and $2.4 billion in assets. The bank has a pristine loan portfolio with nonperforming loans at less than 1% of the total. The shares trade right at book value and have equity to assets ratio over 12. The board just increased the dividend and the shares now yield almost 3%. It is a solid addition to a Trade of the Decade portfolio especially on any pullback in the market or banking sector.
Price also bought a new stake in Getty Realty (GTY), the largest REIT involved in owning and leasing retail gasoline and convenience stores. At the end of last year they owned or leased more than 1000 properties in 21 states. There is a lot going on here as Getty Petroleum Marketing was a key tenant and has filed for bankruptcy liquidation.
As a result, Getty Realty is releasing or selling many of these location and so far has sold 68 properties for about $21 million. Once the portfolio transformation is complete, investors will have a better idea of ongoing cash flow and dividends from the properties. Now, the stock yields 3.5%. The stock has had a nice move and I wouldn't chase it, but it could be an interesting buy at lower prices.
I am only able to hit the highlights of the filing as Price made several other trades in the first quarter of the year. These are simply the ones that stood out for me as worthy of additional research. He has a multi decade record of success so it would be worth your time to download and read the entire 13f for this legendary value investor.