Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Soros on Oil and Agriculture

From Bloomberg News:

George Soros’ $21 billion fund returned 8% last year, which is incredible not only in light of the global crisis, but also given his fund’s size. As you can see, Soros is now betting big on oil and agriculture, outside of the United States.


Billionaire investor George Soros’s hedge-fund firm bought more shares of Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. in the fourth quarter, almost doubling its holdings.

Soros Fund Management LLC bought 16 million shares of the Petrobras’ U.S. traded shares, bringing its stake to 1.45 percent, according to a filing yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The New York-based firm increased its holdings in Potash by 2.6 million shares to 2 percent in the fourth quarter. Petrobras and Potash are now the firm’s two biggest reported U.S. stocks.

“As long as you see through the current crisis there are a few compelling reasons to buy,” Hernan Ladeuix, the head of oil and gas research at CLSA Ltd. in Singapore, said in an e-mail. “Oil prices should go up, probably strongly in coming years. Petrobras is the only large international company where you can have confidence that production can grow 5 percent per annum.”

The purchases made Soros the second-biggest shareholder in the U.S.-traded shares of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company. Petrobras preferred shares fell 5.4 percent in Sao Paulo yesterday, the most since Jan. 12, driven by a drop in oil prices to below $35 a barrel.

Potash, the biggest maker of crop nutrients, also fell by the most since Jan. 12, declining 7.4 percent yesterday. Soros Fund is the eighth-biggest holder in shares of the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company.

Best Buy, Wal-Mart

Soros Fund added 9 million shares of Best Buy Co., bringing its stake to 2.3 percent of the electronics retailer. The firm also started a new position in Desarrolladora Homex SA de C.V., the Mexican homebuilder, bringing its holdings to 4.9 percent of U.S.-traded shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The firm bought 5 million shares of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., North America’s largest printer, representing a 2.4 percent stake.

Soros’s hedge-fund firm sold 3 million shares of Wal-Mart Inc., bringing its stake in the discount retailer to 0.01 percent. The firm also sold all of its 2 million shares in Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the Blackberry phone.

Money managers who oversee more than $100 million of equities or more must file, within 45 days of the end of each quarter, a Form 13F with the SEC that lists their U.S. exchange- traded stocks, options and convertible bonds. The filings don’t show non-U.S. securities or how much cash the firms hold.

Soros’s firm oversees $21 billion. Its Quantum Endowment Fund returned 8 percent last year. That compared with an average loss of 18 percent by hedge funds, according to data compiled by Hedge Fund Research Inc. of Chicago.

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This work by Nicholas E. Radice is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.