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Comment: Hedge funds bullish on Petrobras, Potash

Popular equity investments among hedge funds focus on various sectors. But of late, Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras), Brazil's state-controlled oil company, and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, the world's largest producer of the crop nutrient, were added to Goldman Sachs VIP list of the most popular stocks among hedge fund managers, according to media reports.

Goldman's "Very Important Positions [VIP]" list is a list of the stocks the firm feels matter most to fundamentally-driven hedge funds. It contains stocks that make the most number of top 10 appearances in the portfolios of hedge funds (ranked by position-size).

Petrobras has recently been in the news as billionaire investor George Soros bought a USD 811 million stake in the company in the second quarter, making the oil company his investment fund's largest holding. Soros Fund Management LLC has the second-biggest stake in Petrobras among hedge funds, according to Bloomberg data.

But the addition of the companies to the so-called VIP list, which includes the 50 stocks that are the most common holdings in hedge fund portfolios, is important. This is very simply because the "VIP" has outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 Index during the past 12 months, falling 6 percent as the S&P 500 lost 9.2 percent. And these additions give one an idea of where hedge funds (which have suffered the least, and sometimes even performed well, during the credit crunch) are investing now.

General Electric makes a top 10 appearance on the VIP list.  Other top ranked VIPs included Google, Cisco, Alcan and Corning. Now there's a tip your broker wouldn't give you.

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