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David Goodloe
David Goodloe
Articles (727) 

Martin Whitman Invests in Homebuilder in 4th Quarter

Most of guru's quarterly activity involves reducing positions

Martin Whitman (Trades, Portfolio), founder and portfolio manager of Third Avenue Value Fund, bought two new holdings in the fourth quarter (ended Oct. 31, 2016), but most of his activity involved reducing positions.

One of his new buys – Lennar Corp. (NYSE:LEN) – was the guru’s largest transaction of the quarter. He purchased 571,000 shares of the Miami-based homebuilder for an average price of $44.38 per share. The deal had a 2.2% impact on the portfolio.

Ken Heebner (Trades, Portfolio) is Lennar’s leading shareholder among the gurus with a stake of 1.87 million shares. The stake is 0.82% of Lennar’s outstanding shares and 3.73% of the guru’s total assets.

Lennar has a price-earnings (P/E) ratio of 11.11, a forward P/E of 10.41, a price-book (P/B) ratio of 1.53 and a price-sales (P/S) ratio of 0.91. GuruFocus gives Lennar a Financial Strength rating of 7/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 6/10 with return on equity (ROE) of 15.36% that is higher than 79% of the companies in the Global Residential Construction industry and return on assets (ROA) of 6.28% that is higher than 75% of the companies in that industry.

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Lennar sold for $43.35 per share at market close Monday. The DCF Calculator gives Lennar a fair value of $42.06.

The guru’s second-largest transaction of the quarter was a 51% reduction of his position in Anixter International Inc. (NYSE:AXE), an Illinois-based company that supplies communications and security products and electrical and electronic wire and cable. The guru sold 275,893 shares for an average price of $61.98 per share. The deal had a -1.5% impact on the portfolio.

John Rogers (Trades, Portfolio) is Anixter’s leading shareholder among the gurus with a stake of 2,645,472 shares. The stake is 8% of Anixter’s outstanding shares and 2.06% of the guru’s total assets.

Anixter has a P/E ratio of 30.18, a forward P/E of 15.43, a P/B of 2.07 and a P/S of 0.36. GuruFocus gives Anixter a Financial Strength rating of 5/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 6/10 with ROE of 7.20% that is higher than 57% of the companies in the Global Industrial Distribution industry and ROA of 2.18% that is lower than 56% of the companies in that industry.

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Anixter sold for $79.09 per share Monday. The DCF Calculator gives Anixter a fair value of $28.79.

The guru exited his position in General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM), a Detroit-based automaker, selling 500,100 shares for an average price of $31.62 per share. The divestiture had a -1.4% impact on the portfolio.

Warren Buffett (Trades, Portfolio) is General Motors’ leading shareholder among the gurus with a stake of 50 million shares. The stake is 3.28% of General Motors’ outstanding shares and 1.23% of Buffett’s total assets.

General Motors has a P/E ratio of 4.17, a forward P/E of 6.24, a P/B ratio of 1.21 and a P/S ratio of 0.35. GuruFocus gives General Motors a Financial Strength rating of 5/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 6/10 with ROE of 34.00% that is higher than 95% of the companies in the Global Auto Manufacturers industry and ROA of 6.83% that is higher than 71% of the companies in that industry.

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General Motors sold for $36.01 per share Monday. The DCF Calculator gives General Motors a fair value of $92.57 with a 61% margin of safety.

The guru trimmed his stake in Comerica Inc. (NYSE:CMA), a Dallas-based financial services company, by more than 20% with the sale of 337,900 shares for an average price of $47.44 per share. The deal had a -1.36% impact on the portfolio.

Richard Pzena (Trades, Portfolio) is Comerica’s leading shareholder among the gurus with a stake of 2,449,727 shares. The stake is 1.42% of Comerica’s outstanding shares and 0.71% of Pzena’s total assets.

Comerica has a P/E of 28.99, a forward P/E of 17.86, a P/B of 1.54 and a P/S of 4.35. GuruFocus gives Comerica a Financial Strength rating of 6/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 7/10 with ROE of 5.56% that is lower than 71% of the companies in the Global Banks – Regional – US industry and ROA of 0.60% that is lower than 67% of the companies in that industry.

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Comerica sold for $69.54 per share Monday. The DCF Calculator gives Comerica a fair value of $25.68.

The guru also reduced his position in Brookdale Senior Living Inc. (NYSE:BKD), a Tennessee-based operator of senior living communities, by nearly 22%, selling 413,367 shares for an average price of $16.82 per share. The transaction had a -0.68% impact on the portfolio.

Brookdale’s leading shareholder among the gurus is Larry Robbins (Trades, Portfolio) with a stake of 16,630,415 shares. The stake is 8.94% of Brookdale’s outstanding shares and 2.08% of the guru’s total assets.

Brookdale has a forward P/E of 6.47, a P/B of 1.06 and a P/S of 0.49. GuruFocus gives Brookdale a Financial Strength rating of 4/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 6/10 with ROE of -12.66% that is lower than 88% of the companies in the Global Long-Term Care Facilities industry and ROA of -3.11% that is lower than 81% of the companies in that industry.

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Brookdale sold for $12.85 per share Monday. The DCF Calculator gives Brookdale a fair value of $-17.87.

The guru trimmed his position in Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE:DVN), an Oklahoma City-based producer of natural gas, natural gas liquids and petroleum, by almost 15%, selling 120,400 shares for an average price of $42.1 per share. The deal had a -0.41% impact on the portfolio.

First Eagle Investment (Trades, Portfolio) is Devon Energy’s leading shareholder among the gurus with a stake of 8,145,742 shares. The stake is 1.56% of Devon Energy’s outstanding shares and 0.91% of First Eagle’s total assets.

Devon Energy has a forward P/E of 35.97, a P/B of 4.18 and a P/S of 1.90. GuruFocus gives Devon Energy a Financial Strength rating of 4/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 7/10 with ROE of -114.57% that is lower than 86% of the companies in the Global Oil & Gas E&P industry and ROA of -27.87% that is lower than 68% of the companies in that industry.

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Devon Energy sold for $46.58 per share Monday. The DCF Calculator gives Devon Energy a fair value of $-200.01.

The guru reduced his holding in AGCO Corp. (NYSE:AGCO), a Georgia-based agricultural equipment maker, by more than 16% with the sale of 91,400 shares for an average price of $48.89 per share. The transaction had a -0.39% impact on the portfolio.

AGCO’s leading shareholder among the gurus is Tweedy Browne (Trades, Portfolio) with a position of 865,624 shares. The holding is 1.08% of AGCO’s outstanding shares and 1.29% of the guru’s total assets.

AGCO has a P/E of 31.35, a forward P/E of 23.64, a P/B of 1.70 and a P/S of 0.68. GuruFocus gives AGCO a Financial Strength rating of 5/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 7/10 with ROE of 5.54% that is higher than 60% of the companies in the Global Farm & Construction Equipment industry and ROA of 2.28% that is higher than 54% of the companies in that industry.

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AGCO sold for $60.49 per share Monday. The DCF Calculator gives AGCO a fair value of $20.65.

The guru trimmed his position in Apache Corp. (NYSE:APA), a Houston-based petroleum and natural gas company, by more than 20%, selling 65,000 shares for an average price of $57.2 per share. The deal had a -0.3% impact on the portfolio.

Dodge & Cox is Apache’s leading shareholder among the gurus with a stake of 29,142,376 shares. The stake is 7.68% of Apache’s outstanding shares and 1.75% of the guru’s total assets.

Apache has a forward P/E of 52.91, a P/B of 3.65 and a P/S of 4.89. GuruFocus gives Apache a Financial Strength rating of 3/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 4/10 with ROE of -271.89% that is lower than 95% of the companies in the Global Oil & Gas E&P industry and ROA of -76.47% that is lower than 86% of the companies in that industry.

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Apache sold for $62.36 per share Monday. The DCF Calculator gives Apache a fair value of $-494.31.

The guru boosted his position in Shire PLC (NASDAQ:SHPG), a Dublin-based pharmaceutical company, by more than 46% with the purchase of 19,500 shares for an average price of $193.56 per share. The transaction had a 0.3% impact on the portfolio.

John Paulson (Trades, Portfolio) is Shire’s leading shareholder among the gurus with a stake of 4,667,800 shares. The stake is 1.55% of Shire’s outstanding shares and 9.92% of Paulson’s total assets.

Shire has a P/E of 150.23, a forward P/E of 11.15, a P/B of 1.92 and a P/S of 5.13. GuruFocus gives Shire a Financial Strength rating of 4/10 and a Profitability and Growth rating of 8/10 with ROE of 0.57% that is higher than 76% of the companies in the Global Biotechnology industry and ROA of 0.26% that is higher than 78% of the companies in that industry.

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Shire sold for $178.28 per share Monday. The DCF Calculator gives Shire a fair value of $28.15.

In addition to his two new purchases, Whitman added to three positions, reduced 10 and sold out one in the fourth quarter.

Disclosure: I do not own any stocks mentioned in this article.

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About the author:

David Goodloe
I'm a journalist by training. I grew up in Arkansas and earned my B.A. at the University of Arkansas. I earned my master's degree at the University of North Texas. My background includes stints at newspapers in Arkansas and Texas and teaching news writing and news editing to students at the University of Oklahoma and Richland College here in Dallas. I'm a writer/editor at GuruFocus.

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