(Updates with comments on Monsanto beginning in second paragraph.)
May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Larry Robbins, founder of $7.5 billion Glenview Capital Management LLC, said he’s amassed a $1 billion position in seed maker Monsanto Co. and intends to hold it as a long-term investment as demand for genetically modified foods rises.
“In a utopian world we would all be able to shop with hedge-fund managers and Hollywood stars and pay whatever we wanted at Whole Foods,” Robbins said in an interview today with Bloomberg Television’s Stephanie Ruhle at the 19th annual Sohn Investment Conference in New York. “In the real world, we do need to increase the food supply and GMOs unlock the key to that,” he said, referring to genetically modified organisms.
Glenview initially invested in St. Louis-based Monsanto in the third quarter last year and significantly increased its bet in the fourth quarter, Robbins said. Monsanto rose 2.5 percent to $114.95 at 3:18 p.m. in New York.
Robbins said he was attracted to Monsanto because its management recognized the company had too much cash on the balance sheet and started buying back shares at an accelerated pace.
“They’re asking all the right questions,” Robbins said. “We of course will share our views on the debate. We envision that will be a long-term investment.”
Robbins returned 43 percent in his main fund last year with bets on health-care companies including Tenet Healthcare Corp. and HCA Holdings Inc. The fund returned 3 percent in the first quarter.
During his presentation, Robbins laid out why his firm favors Humana Inc. and WellPoint Inc. Humana, which Glenview started buying in December 2012, may partner with a pharmacy benefits manager, Robbins said. He also said he likes WellPoint Inc., which he started buying in the past three months.
“There’s an alarming outbreak of old people in the United States,” he said in the presentation.
Robbins also said in an interview he bought shares of Endo International Plc in the past few months as the market dropped.
Shares in the Dublin-based company rose 2.9 percent to $67.73 at 3:07 p.m. in New York in U.S. trading.