Hedge funds shed shares in Alibaba and Baidu in second quarter

Matthew Goldstein and Alexandra Stevenson
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As China's stock market took a free fall earlier this summer, big money managers looked to sell shares of two of the largest Chinese tech companies listed in the United States — Alibaba and Baidu — during the second quarter.

Coatue Management sold 2.2 million shares of Baidu, China's biggest Internet search company —roughly 74 percent of its stake — in the quarter that ended on June 30, according to a regulatory filing on Friday. In the same period, Tiger Global Management sold 6.6 million shares of Alibaba, almost its entire stake in the Chinese online shopping platform.

The shares of both Alibaba and Baidu are down sharply since the beginning of the second quarter. The two companies were once the darlings of a group of hedge funds known as the "tiger cubs," hedge fund managers seeded by the billionaire investor Julian Robertson, which include Coatue, founded by Philippe Laffont, and Tiger Global, founded by the investor Chase Coleman.

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Other so-called tiger cubs sold some of their shares in Baidu and Alibaba as well, including Viking Global Investors. The hedge fund, led by O. Andreas Halvorsen, who once worked for Mr. Robertson, sold 1.1 million shares in Baidu and also 902,981 shares of Alibaba.

The hedge funds disclosed that they sold their shares in Baidu and Alibaba in regulatory filings that are submitted four times a year to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The quarterly reports, known as 13F filings, offer investors a chance to see which stocks and sectors traders were betting on when the quarter ended, roughly 45 days ago.

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But the filings offer an imperfect window into the holdings of money managers because they are inherently backward-looking. They include only stocks traded in the United States and do not include short positions, or bets a manager might have made that a stock will fall in price.

The family office for George Soros, the billionaire investor, sold 4.38 million shares of Alibaba, at the same time his firm was buying 2.47 millions shares of Facebook.

But not all Chinese companies were shunned in the quarter. Some of the biggest shareholders in, Alibaba's rival in China, are hedge funds that added to their positions in the quarter. Tiger Global added 49 million shares, bringing its stake to 6.4 percent, while Lone Pine Capital increased its stake to 3.8 percent. Coatue bought 3.3 million shares in, bringing its stake to 1.4 percent.

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Other regulatory filings showed some investors acquiring shares of Precision Castparts during the quarter, ahead of the announcement this week by Berkshire Hathaway, Warren E. Buffett's company, that it would buy the aerospace parts manufacturer for $32.3 billion.

Jana Partners, a fund led by Barry Rosenstein, disclosed in a filing that it bought 2.5 million shares of Precision Castparts in the second quarter, and Farallon Capital Management reported adding 232,000 shares to its pre-existing stake in the manufacturing company.

If Jana and Farallon are still holding their positions, the funds will have done well with finely timed trades. Shares of Precision Castparts are up almost 10 percent since the beginning of the second quarter.

Another stock that experienced a lot of activity this quarter was Mondelez International, after William A. Ackman announced he had built up a 7.5 percent stake in the food company in a bet on consolidation in the food industry. Viking Global sold out of its 1.5 percent stake in Mondelez over the same quarter.