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Soros takes a bite out of Apple after ditching gold

Billionaire investor George Soros.
Photo: Joshua Roberts | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Billionaire investor George Soros.

Billionaire investor George Soros has been busy stocking up on hedge fund favorites as he joined others in dumping gold exchange traded fund (ETF) holdings in the second quarter, SEC regulatory filings revealed.

Soros Fund Management picked up 66,800 shares in Apple, the filings showed, just a day after fellow billionaire investor Carl Icahn revealed that he had built up a "large stake" in the tech giant.

(Read more: Hedge fund holdings day: Top managers show their hands)

It came after the Soros family office ditched its holdings in the world's biggest gold ETF, SPDR Gold Trust, which were valued at $82 million at the end of March, and its holdings in Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF, worth $100.9 million.

A number of other hedge funds have also cut their stakes in gold ETFs in the second quarter — despite the jump in demand for the physical metal.

Paulson & Co has more than halved its stake in SPDR Gold Trust to 10.2 million shares, and JP Morgan Chase has cut its holding in the fund by 1.6 million shares to 8.6 million.

In addition, Wells Fargo sold 738,039 shares, taking its stake to 1.4 million shares, while Northern Trust Corporation lowered its investment by 72 percent, to 1.9 million shares.

J.C. Penney, Herbalife

Soros added to its stake in the flailing retailer J.C. Penney, taking its holding to a total of 19.9 million shares. He added a call option on 500,000 shares, implying he expects the stock to rise.

The 9.1 percent position had a market value of $341.4 million at the end of June, according to the firm's second-quarter 2013 13F filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which reveals its long positions.

The 83-year-old hedge fund industry veteran also took a 5 percent position in weight loss and nutritional supplement company Herbalife. He picked up 5 million shares valued at $227.5 million at the end of June, making it Soros's third largest holding.

(Read more; Hedge funds are back: 70% see positive July returns)

Soros's positions on Herbalife and J.C. Penney appear at odds with rival hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who revealed in December that he had shorted about 20 million shares in a bet against the company, accusing it of being a pyramid scheme. He also filed a complaint with the SEC accusing Soros of insider dealing over his Herbalife trades, sources told CNBC earlier this month.

(Read more: If your hedge fund is criminal, it'd better be big)

Ackman, who founded Pershing Square Capital Management, resigned from J.C. Penney's board this week after a public dispute with other board members on how best to turn the department store's fortunes around.

His bearish move on Herbalife also puts him head-to-head with Carl Icahn of Icahn Enterprises, who bought 611,354 shares of the stock, bringing his stake to just under 17 million shares, according to a separate filing.

By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave

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