Los Angeles Angels owner Arturo Moreno spoke with Forbes about what he’s been buying—and holding—during the market downturn: lots of cash, real estate and dividend stocks.
Baseball mogul Arturo Moreno first bought Alphabet and Amazon stock six years ago, after his daughter “convinced” him to invest in the two tech heavyweights. As equity valuations tumbled in recent weeks, Moreno saw a buying opportunity. In May, he bought 3,000 additional shares of Alphabet, growing his stake to 13,000 shares—now worth about $31 million. Moreno also loaded up on more Amazon shares; he holds a $9 million stake in the e-commerce retailer.
“I like the everyday use of these products,” Moreno told Forbes, explaining his common-sense approach to investing. “How do you go through a day without using Google? And it seems like we get a present from Amazon on our doorstep every day.”
Moreno, a self-described conservative investor who pays close attention to price-earnings ratios, says he has about $780 million parked in cash or cash equivalents, compared to just over $300 million in equities. Beyond his few bets on Alphabet and Amazon, Moreno has long favored so-called “value stocks” that pay shareholders quarterly dividends. “The moves I’ve made really have been towards lower PEs and a good return on dividends,” he says.
Moreno recently added to his largest holding, J.P. Morgan, buying 25,000 shares in March and another 25,000 shares in May. Moreno now holds 375,000 shares of the Wall Street bank, worth around $43 million. He also holds around $12 million worth of shares in rival Morgan Stanley, and positions in oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron. Moreno says his investment portfolio generates between $11 to 12 million in annual dividend income.
“With inflation, and with people looking for security over the next 12 to 18 months, you’re going to see more people headed towards more secure investments, and looking for a better return [through dividends],” he predicts.
Dividends are one reason why, in May, Moreno bought another 100,000 shares in AT&T. He now holds around $26 million worth of the stock. Moreno also maintains a large position in Verizon. The reasoning behind his confidence in the two largest U.S. wireless networks is the same as his investments in Alphabet and Amazon: plain logic: “Everybody has a cell phone.”
Moreno, 77, first made his fortune in the billboard advertising business. In 1999, he sold his company Outdoor Systems to Infinity Broadcasting for $8.7 billion, pocketing around $1.4 billion himself. Today, much of Moreno’s fortune is tied up in the Los Angeles Angels, which he bought for a hair under $184 million in 2003. The Major League baseball team is now worth about $2 billion including debt, Forbes estimates—up 9% from last year, and an eleven-fold gain for Moreno in under two decades.
“The equity part [of the team] is just skyrocketing,” says Moreno, who attributes the Angel’s rising valuation to Americans’ pent-up demand for entertainment, after years of sheltering at home during the pandemic. “For us in the baseball business, it’s all about getting people to the ballpark.”
Real estate is another favorite asset of Moreno’s. He says he owns about $500 million worth of undeveloped land, shopping centers and apartment buildings across Phoenix, the country’s fast growing city, and in southern California. “For the real estate we own, the offers we’ve received have been pretty crazy,” says Moreno, citing surging investor demand for real assets. “I think there’s been a bubble.”
But Moreno believes the real estate market still has room to run. He’s eying opportunities in the commercial sector. “I would say my focus, probably in the next 36 to 48 months, is going to be real estate,” he says. “I just think there’s gonna be some buying opportunities.”
Moreno first started investing in land and real estate after selling his billboard company in 1999. It’s an asset class he’s long been bullish on, but increasingly so as the Federal Reserve tightens money supply. “For young people, I always recommend buying something where they have some kind of equity,” he says. “I call it, buying a piece of the rock.”
Moreno’s highest-profile real estate deal—an agreement he struck with the city of Anaheim in 2019, to purchase Angel Stadium and its accompanying 150-acre lot—fell apart in dramatic fashion last month, as former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu became the focus of an FBI corruption probe in relation to the stadium deal. The Anaheim City Council voted unanimously to void the transaction. The deal’s unraveling was “strictly political,” insists Moreno, who declined to discuss specifics. Moreno is a longtime Republican donor who backed both of Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.
Despite the stadium deal’s collapse, Moreno was happy to get his $50 million in escrow back, which is now part of his sizable cash pile. For now, he’s keeping that money in cash, waiting to see whether the Federal Reserve is able to get inflation under control: “I believe there’s going to be, in the next 24 to 36 months, some opportunity to start reinvesting in this [stock] market,” he says. “Maybe 12 or 18 months.”
If those timelines seem imprecise, it’s because Moreno doesn’t profess to be any sort of market whiz. “It’s almost impossible to find the bottom, and almost impossible to find the top,” says the billboard billionaire turned baseball mogul, describing his investment philosophy. “You have to just say, are you willing to hold something for the long term?”
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