A $55 billion manager who bought at market low returns to cash



David Samra, the award-winning stock picker, is boosting cash holdings close to their limit in a market he sees as lacking buying opportunities.

Samra, who oversees about $55 billion for Artisan Partners, says he increased cash to about 13 percent of his international fund, near the 15 percent maximum, as equities around the world extend rallies after Donald Trump’s election. While he’s been selling companies that he sees as reaching their true worth, he’s found it harder to find stocks to replace them.

The value investor makes no claim to being able to time the market, but his views on valuations can sometimes provide clues on its direction. In February, days before global equity markets ended a sharp downturn, Samra said he was buying again.


Samra says he also added to holdings after the Brexit vote sent markets tumbling in June, but he missed the opportunity to buy after what he saw as a “naive” selloff in Asia following Trump’s election. Republican control of the House, Senate and presidency is good for commerce, he says.

One of Samra’s recent stock picks is Richemont, the Swiss maker of watches and other luxury goods. The owner of brands including Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels saw its stock fall 38 percent from a peak in November through a low in June, battered by a corruption campaign that scared Chinese people off ostentatious shows of wealth and the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, a key shopping market for such products. Its price-to-earnings ratio tumbled in June to the lowest since 2013. Since June 27, the stock has risen 25 percent.

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