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Hedge funds pile into Amazon, ditch eBay

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Activist investors Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman at the 2014 Delivering Alpha conference in New York.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

The 10 largest U.S. hedge funds saw their equity holdings slip for the first time since the end of last year, with tech stocks leading the sell-off in the third quarter as investors tried to cope with heightened market volatility over the summer.

Hedge fund assets among the 10 biggest funds fell to $191 billion, down $9 billion in the three months ending in September, marking the first dip in assets since the fourth quarter last year.

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The drop in equity holdings reflects both the sell-off seen in markets over the summer as well as fund managers trimming or exiting positions, data from S&P Capital IQ assessing recent regulatory filings shows.

Ebay was the most sold stock among the top 10 funds, after Carl Icahn offloaded all of his 47 million shares in the firm in the third quarter, worth some $1.6 billion.

Amazon on the other hand was the single most bought stock among some of Wall Street's biggest names, with a total of $2.6 billion of new hedge fund investment over the quarter.

Lone Pine Capital, run by Stephen Mandel snapped up 1.9 million shares of the online retailer worth $977 million, while Andreas Halvorsen's Viking Global picked up 735,000 worth around $371 million and Chase Coleman's Tiger Global bulked up on over 2 million shares worth $1.2 billion.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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After eBay, discount travel website Priceline.com was the second most sold stock, after Tiger Global sold out of the group entirely. Bioscience firm Ilumina, Microsoft and Mastercard were also top sells.

"The analysis finds that the top 10 hedge funds heavily sold-off their equity holdings. With their enormous volume of assets under management, the largest pure play hedge funds serve as a microcosm for patterns of buying and selling that may have far-reaching ramifications for global markets," said financial risk manager at S&P Capital IQ, Pavle Sabic.

Confectionary maker Mondelez was the top new holding after Bill Ackman's Pershing Square took out a position of 43 million shares worth $1.9 billion in the company.

Ackman said in a statement in August that the fund had taken a 7.5 percent stake in the food and drink firm through a mixture of shares, futures contracts and options.

S&P Capital IQ analysed the latest 13F filings submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a quarterly filing that is required of institutional investors showing all equity assets under management of at least $100 million in value.