Arturo Moreno, owner of the Los Angeles Angels, spoke to him forbes about what he bought — and held — during the market downturn: lots of cash, real estate, and dividend-paying stocks
Baseball mogul Arturo Moreno first bought shares in Alphabet and Amazon six years ago after his daughter “convinced” him to invest in the two tech heavyweights. As stock valuations plummeted in recent weeks, Moreno saw a buying opportunity. In May, he bought 3,000 additional shares of Alphabet, increasing his stake to 13,000 shares — now worth about $31 million. Moreno has also boosted more Amazon shares; He holds a $9 million stake in the e-commerce retailer.
“I like using these products every day,” Moreno said forbes, and explains his common sense when investing. “How do you get through a day without Google? And it seems like every day we get a gift from Amazon on our doorstep.”
Moreno, a self-proclaimed conservative investor who pays attention to price-to-earnings ratios, says he has about $780 million parked in cash or cash equivalents, compared to just over $300 million in stocks. Aside from his few bets on Alphabet and Amazon, Moreno has long favored so-called “value stocks,” which pay shareholders quarterly dividends. “The steps I’ve really taken have been toward lower PEs and a good dividend yield,” he says.
Moreno recently increased its largest holding, JP Morgan, buying 25,000 shares in March and another 25,000 shares in May. Moreno now owns 375,000 shares of the Wall Street Bank, valued at about $43 million. He also owns around $12 million worth of shares in rival Morgan Stanley and positions in oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron. According to Moreno, his investment portfolio generates between $11 million and $12 million in annual dividend income.
“With inflation and people looking for safety over the next 12 to 18 months, you will see more people looking for safer investments and better returns [through dividends]’ he predicts.
Dividends are one reason Moreno bought another 100,000 shares of AT&T stock in May. He now holds around $26 million worth of stock. Moreno also holds a large position in Verizon. The reason for his confidence in the two largest US cellular networks is the same as for his investments in Alphabet and Amazon: simple logic: “Everyone has a cell phone.”
Moreno, 77, initially made his fortune with billboard advertising. In 1999, he sold his Outdoor Systems company to Infinity Broadcasting for $8.7 billion, raking in around $1.4 billion himself. Today, much of Moreno’s fortune is in the Los Angeles Angels, which he bought in 2003 for a hair under $184 million. The major league baseball team is worth about $2 billion today including debt. forbes Estimates — a 9% year-over-year increase and an 11-fold win for Moreno in less than two decades.
“The equity portion [of the team] shooting up right now,” says Moreno, who attributes the Angel’s soaring rating to Americans’ pent-up demand for entertainment after years of seeking sanctuary during the pandemic. “For us in the baseball business, it’s about getting people into the ballpark.”
Real estate is another of Moreno’s favorite assets. He says he owns about $500 million worth of vacant land, malls and apartment buildings in Phoenix, the nation’s fast-growing city, and in Southern California. “For the properties we own, the offers we’ve received have been pretty insane,” Moreno says, citing increasing investor demand for real estate. “I think there was a bubble.”
But Moreno believes the real estate market still has room for improvement. He is looking for opportunities in the commercial field. “I would say my focus for the next 36 to 48 months will probably be real estate,” he says. “I just think there will be some buying opportunities.”
Moreno began investing in land and real estate after selling his billboard company in 1999. It’s an asset class he’s long been optimistic about, but growing as the Federal Reserve tightens money supply. “I always recommend young people to buy something where they have some equity,” he says. “I call it buying a piece of the rock.”
Moreno’s most high-profile real estate deal — an agreement he struck with the city of Anaheim in 2019 to purchase Angel Stadium and its 150-acre property — fell through dramatically last month when former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu entered the The focus shifted to an FBI corruption investigation in connection with the stadium deal. The Anaheim City Council voted unanimously to cancel the transaction. The breakup of the deal was “exclusively political,” stresses Moreno, who declined to discuss details. Moreno is a longtime Republican donor who has backed both of Donald Trump’s bids for reelection in 2020.
Despite the collapse of the stadium deal, Moreno was happy to get his $50 million in escrow back, which is now part of his sizable cash pile. Right now he’s holding that money in cash, waiting to see if the Federal Reserve can bring inflation under control: “I think there’s going to be an opportunity in the next 24 to 36 months to start reinvesting that money [stock] market,” he says. “Maybe 12 or 18 months.”
If these timelines seem inaccurate, it’s because Moreno doesn’t claim to be a market genius. “It’s almost impossible to find the bottom and almost impossible to find the top,” the Billboard billionaire-turned-baseball mogul describes his investment philosophy. “I just have to say, are you willing to hold something for the long term?”