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Hedge Fund Star Larry Robbins Is Bullish on Obamacare

August 05, 2013

Larry Robbins usually describes the approach of his $6.4 billion hedge-fund firm, Glenview Capital Management, as "suggestivist," cultivating amicable working relationships with corporate management to propose shareholder-friendly changes. Now he's becoming an activist for the first time, challenging one of his holdings in a proxy contest that is under way.

The switch in tactics isn't the result of any shortfall in Glenview's performance. Its flagship, the $4.8 billion Glenview fund, returned 26.8% last year, and over 10 years has provided an annualized 13.4% gain to its investors, due in large part to Robbins' focus on health-care stocks. His 13-year-old firm today has 72 employees and occupies the 44th floor of the prestigious General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue.

There, he and his team conduct bottom-up research, searching for long-term investments in large-cap growth companies that have advantages beyond the direction of the economic cycle. The team makes pretty big bets: As of June 30, the Glenview fund's top-10 positions represented about two-thirds of its total assets.

Robbins, 43, started buying health-care shares in 2004, after President George W. Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act, which mandated that the government increase reimbursements for companies that serve the elderly. About 40% of his firm's assets are now invested in health-care related companies, including Tenet Healthcare (ticker: THC), Health Management Associates (HMA), Community Health Systems (CYH), Humana (HUM), andMcKesson (MCK).

He's the rare Wall Streeter who likes the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, which extends insurance coverage to all U.S. citizens. "There were a lot of irrational fears around Obamacare," he says. Investors, for instance, initially sold shares of insurers before realizing they wouldn't necessarily fare badly.

Most recently, Robbins, who named his firm after his suburban Chicago youth hockey team, has been bullish on hospitals: One of his main investment themes is labeled "beds in 2014," highlighting the expansion in insurance coverage that starts next year. As he notes, "Customers receive care from those hospitals regardless of insurance."

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http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424052748704755304578621540036830574.html#articleTabs_article%3D0

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