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Whale Watch: Where Biggest Investors Are Putting Money

Wednesday, 17 Feb 2010 | 12:56 PM ET

Warren Buffett eased the throttle on energy while Bill Ackman had less on Target. George Soros and John Paulson loaded up on financials, while Carl Icahn backed off on Yahoo but jumped into Take Two.

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
Oliver P. Quilla for CNBC.com
New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

Those were the positions some of the country's biggest investors took in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the portfolio updates (13-F forms) they filed this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While the stock market was winding down its gains from its violent 2009 rally, its deepest pockets were tweaking and in some cases overhauling their portfolios to weather the quarter ahead.

A few highlights:

George Soros

Through his hedge fund, Soros Fund Management, the prolific investor also known for his funding of liberal political causes increased his portfolio to $8.8 billion, or more than 40 percent.

Among his biggest moves were in the financial space, with additions to positions in Citigroup, BB&T and Fifth Third Bancorp. Conversely, he cut his holdings of JPMorgan Chase by about 94 percent to just 4,500 shares.

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In addition to banks Soros went for telecomms, doubling his holdings in both Leap WirelessInternational and Motorola.

Soros hiked his position in retailer Kohl's but halved his stake in Macy's. In technology, the firm added to its Intel shares.

He also added positions in the SPDR Gold Trust, an exchange-traded fund that closely tracks movements in the precious metal. (Read more here)

Carl Icahn

The activist investor who spent years criticizing Yahoo management reduced his position in the Internet company by 76 percent.

Icahn's two biggest holdings are now Motorola (32 percent) and Biogen (24 percent).

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Among significant new additions, Icahn also went for financials, choosing troubled commercial lender CIT Group which is now more than 9 percent of his total portfolio.

He also spiked his Take Two Interactive holdings by 234 percent in the quarter and has since added significantly to that position. Genzyme Labs is his fourth-biggest holding after Ichan added 231 percent to his portfolio.

John Paulson

The hedge fund magnate's biggest moves were additions to gold and banks.

Though his portfolio edged lower to under $20 billion in the quarter, he used various vehicles to up his gold exposure nearly 10 percent to $3.4 billion.

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He also increased stakes in Citigroup, Bank of America, Capital One and a host of other financial institutions.

He added positions in private educator Apollo Group as well as Comcast, which is in the process of purchasing CNBC.com-parent NBC Universal.

Bill Ackman

Also an activist investor, Ackman added several positions through his Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund.

Ackman generally keeps a small quantity of companies in his portfolio, most recently turning to new additions Hyatt Hotels and Landry's Restaurants .

An outspoken Target investor, Ackman reduced his holdings in the company in the fourth quarter by about 20 percent.

Ackman announced his position in Landry's in November after the company tried to go private at a price Pershing deemed too low.

Warren Buffett

The biggest moves for Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway came in trimming exposure to energy mainstays ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil as well as bluechip consumer companies Johnson and Johnson and Procter & Gamble.

Among the few companies where he added exposure were Wells Fargo, Wal-Mart, Republic Services and Iron Mountain.

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He closed his holdings in Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific ahead of Berkshire's acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

The total value of the Berkshire portfolio rose to nearly $58 billion for the quarter, a gain of about 2.4 percent.

Investors that manage more than $100 million are required to file the public 13-F forms within 45 days of quarter's end. The deadline for filing was Tuesday, and most big managers waited until then to file.

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