The Nation’s Largest Hedge Fund Scores Big on Financials

What does the holdings in financial stocks of the largest hedge fund in the nation say about the state of the banking industry? For one thing, that big money is being made in financials today.

We took a look inside the holdings of Bridgewater Associates and we found the hedge fund’s financial stock holdings have appreciated more than 27% since the end of the first quarter. These guys are killing it.

So what did Bridgewater, which had $38.6 billion of total assets at yearend 2008, own at the end of the first quarter? Here’s the list:

Aflac Inc
American Financial Group Inc
Annaly Capital Management Inc
Associated Banc-Corp
Assurant Inc
Bank Of America Corp
Bank Of Hawaii Corp
Bank Of New York Mellon Corp
Capital One Financial Corp
Cme Group Inc
Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc
First American Corp
H&R Block Inc
Hanover Insurance Group Inc
Hcc Insurance Holdings Inc
Hudson City Bancorp Inc
Jack Henry & Associates Inc
Jpmorgan Chase & Co
Knight Capital Group Inc
Lincoln National Corp
Marsh & Mclennan Cos Inc
Nasdaq Omx Group
New York Community Bancorp Inc
Pnc Financial Services Group Inc
Prudential Financial Inc
Raymond James Financial Inc
Reinsurance Group Of America Inc
Tcf Financial Corp
US Bancorp
Verisign Inc
Wells Fargo & Co

These holdings amounted to just over 11% of Bridgewater’s $1.2 billion of equities the fund held at quarter’s end. Bridgewater’s financial stocks were valued at about $134 million at that time.

Now — assuming the fund still owns the same investments — the stocks are worth $170.5 million, a jump in value of 27.3%. There are some real home runs in Bridgewater’s portfolio, although none is better than Lincoln National Corp., which has appreciated 192.7% since the end of the first quarter. Bridgewater has also scored big on Prudential Financial Inc., Capital One Financial Corp., Aflac Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., and Bank of America Corp.

Granted, there are some dogs in Bridgewater’s portfolio, namely First American Corp., H&R Block Inc., and Raymond James Financial Inc., all of which have suffered double-digit percentage declines in value since March 31.

So what do I take away from Bridgewater’s holdings? That financials are back, as far as investors are concerned, despite the recession, unemployment rate, and every other financial services-related stumbling block currently in play.

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