Here's What This Big Hedge Fund Company Is Buying

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Every quarter, fund managers have to disclose what they've bought and sold. Their latest moves can shine a bright light on smart stock picks.

Today let's look at Viking Global Investors, founded in 1999 by Andreas Halvorsen and David Ott, who had previously worked together at Julian Robertson's respected Tiger Management firm. Viking is known as a long-short global equity fund, meaning that it aims to maintain long positions in companies on which it's bullish, and short positions in those on which it's bearish.

Viking's stock portfolio totaled $9.6 billion in value as of Dec. 31, 2011, with 57 holdings. The top three holdings, representing 17% of Viking's total value, were US Bancorp, Invesco, and Apple.

Interesting developments
So what does Viking Global's latest quarterly 13F filing tell us? Here are a few interesting details:

One new holding is Tata Motors (NYS: TTM) . Based in India, it has many investors excited about the low-cost automobiles it can offer in emerging and developing markets. The company is not all about the low end, either -- it owns the Jaguar and Land Rover names.

Viking already owned shares of Baidu (NAS: BIDU) , but it upped its stake in it by nearly 50% over the quarter, taking the holding to more than 5% of the overall portfolio. The Chinese search engine giant seems to be firing on all cylinders lately, boosting its customer base and advertising revenue. Despite its promise, some are now viewing it as overvalued, with a forward P/E ratio above 30.

A holding that Viking cut back on was hospital operator Health Management Associates (NYS: HMA) . Investors are worried about possible trouble if Medicare reimbursements are reduced. Earnings reports have been solid lately, but the company is also under the cloud of a lawsuit regarding Medicare billing and its chief counsel recently resigned.

Among the companies that Viking sold out of were SINA (NAS: SINA) and fertilizer giant PotashCorp (NYS: POT) . SINA operates the Twitter-like Weibo service in China, and reports that rising profits are around the corner. Some PotashCorp fans see it as an inevitable long-term winner, given our planet's enduring need for food and more efficient farm production, but near-term, the company's volume dropped sharply. Expiring contracts that have to be renewed are also putting pressure on the stock.

We should never blindly copy any investor's moves, no matter how talented the investor. But it can be useful to keep an eye on what smart folks are doing. 13-F forms can be great places to find intriguing candidates for our portfolios.

Looking for promising investments? Check out our free special report -- "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying"-- and learn which stocks are appealing to Warren Buffett and other great investors.

At the time this article was published Longtime Fool contributorSelena Maranjian, whom you canfollow on Twitter here, owns shares of Apple, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see her holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple, Baidu, and SINA, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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