Market Insider

Hedge funds join the Alibaba bandwagon

Cooperman's moves: Groupon & Alibaba
Cooperman's moves: Groupon & Alibaba

Some of America's biggest and most influential investors are going gaga over Baba ... Alibaba that is. Each quarter, money managers in the U.S. who manage over $100 million in assets have to disclose stock holdings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. This most current round of disclosures shows Alibaba has become a popular theme among big hedge funds.

Among the noteworthy managers disclosing stakes in the Chinese e-commerce giant is activist investor Dan Loeb and his Third Point LLC hedge fund. As of Sept. 30, 2014, his firm held 7.2 million shares of Alibaba Group Holding, the corporate entity that is tied to the China-based parent company. The stake, if still held today, is worth approximately $829 million, as of Friday's closing price of $115.10.

A trader at the NYSE during the Alibaba Group IPO opening.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

In addition, George Soros' hedge fund, Soros Fund Management, disclosed a 4.4 million share stake, worth around $506 million.

John Paulson's hedge fund, Paulson and Company, held a 1.9 million share stake, valued at $219 million.

Julian Robertson's Tiger Management held 1.2 million shares, worth $138 million.

Other hedge funds with reported stakes as of Sept. 30 include David Tepper's Appaloosa Management (725,000 shares), Farallon Capital (530,800 shares), Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisors (410,000 shares), and Barry Rosenstein's Jana Partners (300,000 shares).

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Alibaba Group Holding shares made their public debut on Sept. 19, 2014 after pricing at $68 per share. They closed at $93.89 to finish trading on the first day. As of Sept. 30, shares closed at $88.85, good enough for a 31 percent return above the IPO price. As of the close of trading Friday, shares have risen by 69 percent over the IPO price, and give Alibaba a current market valuation of approximately $286 billion, which is greater than that of American corporate icons like General Electric, Wal-Mart,Procter & Gamble, and Coca-Cola.

Analysts tracked by Factset have a current average target price of $119.37, which is 4 percent above current levels. Of the 38 analysts polled, 34 have a "buy" or equivalent rating, with just four that have a "hold."

These quarterly reports, known as 13-F filings, were still trickling in as of the close of Friday trading. That means there could still be other funds that took positions in Alibaba and held them as of Sept. 30, but many experts caution that these filings offer 45-day-old holdings information that may or may not have changed since the effective date. However, the data is used by some investors as a way to help identify trends in the industry.

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In this case, the largest initial public offering of stock in capital markets history did manage to draw a lot of attention from hedge funds, regardless of whether or not they were able to get allocations in the IPO itself. Now, the question for many investors is how long these funds stay with the trade as we head into 2015.

—CNBC's Elizabeth Schulze contributed to this report.