CNBC Stock Blog

Activist Hedge Fund Moves Into Netflix, Gold

Robert Holmes |Staff Writer

Barry Rosenstein, founder of Jana Partners, is best known as an activist investor.

The hedge fund manager made intriguing moves in the fourth quarter, buying more shares of Apple and making an outsized bet on Marathon Petroleum.

In his role as an activist investor, Rosenstein has most recently targeted McGraw-Hill Cos., the owner of Standard & Poor’s.

Jana Partners previously initiated a stake in the company and hoped to break it up to unlock value.

In September, McGraw-Hill announced that it would separate into two public companies, notching another victory for Rosenstein.

McGraw-Hill has been displaced as the hedge fund’s largest position after Rosenstein bought 16.6 million shares of Marathon Petroleum in the fourth quarter.

The new position carried a market value of about $553 million and a portfolio weighting of nearly 25 percent.

McGraw-Hill slipped to second place in Rosenstein’s portfolio with a weighting of $395 million after the fund sold nearly 1.5 million shares during the quarter.

Rosenstein has made waves as an activist investor in other companies, including El Paso. Jana Partners was also part of a group that helped thwart a buyout of Charles River Laboratories.

Rosenstein slashed his stake in El Paso, selling more than 12 million shares of the company after it rallied on a buyout offer from Kinder Morgan. Jana Partners held only 5 million shares of El Paso as of Dec. 31.

Hedge funds that manage more than $100 million are required to disclose their equity holdings, options and convertible debt on a Form 13F filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission within 45 days of the end of a quarter.

Funds aren’t required to report short positions betting on declines.

Jana Partners ended the fourth quarter with 28 reported holdings with a market value of $2.1 billion.

Rosenstein’s 13 new buys in the fourth quarter span a number of sectors, from energy to technology to gold. In addition to Marathon Petroleum, Jana initiated new stakes in Energizer Holdings,SPDR Gold Trust,Netflix, TripAdvisor and Cytec Industries, among others.

Jana also added to six positions, including Apple, Expedia and Rock-Tenn. Rosenstein now owns 258,000 shares of Apple.

On the other hand, Jana Partners unloaded its stake in nine companies, including Coca-Cola Enterprises, Liberty Global, Liberty Media and Covidien.

Meanwhile, in addition to McGraw-Hill, Rosenstein cut his hedge fund’s position in Sunoco and Google, among others.

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