February 12, 2015 / 9:01 PM / 5 years ago

Hedge fund Glenview's Robbins lists McDonald's as a favorite pick

NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Hedge fund manager Larry Robbins on Thursday called fast food restaurant McDonald’s Corp a “uniquely interesting opportunity” thanks to a new chief executive and a board that he expects will become more focused over the coming months.

Robbins, who runs the $11 billion Glenview Capital Management hedge fund and was ranked as 2013’s best performing hedge fund manager, listed McDonald’s as one of his portfolio’s lesser-known favorite picks - placing it alongside his more-widely-discussed favorites Thermo Fisher, Monsanto and Flextronics.

Robbins attends many conferences and talks often about his top picks. At the Harbor Investment Conference he joked that he’s talked about everything.

McDonald’s operating characteristics are “subpar,” he said, but he thinks Steve Easterbrook, who will take over the CEO role on March 1, is aware of this and will work on it.

He also said that nominations for directors to McDonald’s board can be made, which suggests that new members might join. “At a minimum, the board will be more focused,” Robbins said.

Robbins also said that the fund had trimmed its investments in hospital-sector companies going into the end of 2014. He did not elaborate on why.

At the end of the third quarter, Tenet Healthcare Corp was one of his biggest investments.

Generally, Robbins, whose Capital Opportunity Fund gained an average 57 percent a year over the last three years, said he likes to pick business sectors where companies allocate capital well rather than trying to pick individual winners and losers.

Robbins was being interviewed about his favorite picks by William Ackman, the best hedge fund manager of 2014. Ackman and Mark Axelowitz, a managing director at UBS Private Wealth Management, run the conference. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Nick Zieminski)

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