Barry Rosenstein's JANA Partners liked grocery chain Supervalu Inc in a big way in the first quarter, while Philippe Laffont's Coatue Management lost its stomach for the company's shares.
Regulatory filings revealed that JANA, a hedge fund with $5.5 billion in assets, picked up some 14 million shares of Supervalu in the quarter ended March 31. For Laffont's $9.5 billion firm, however, it was a different story, as the hedge fund dumped all of its roughly 10 million shares.
Leon Cooperman's $9 billion Omega Advisors also jumped into Supervalu, opening a 6.87 million-share position, a filing revealed.
Hedge fund managers and other large investment firms on Wednesday filed so-called 13-F reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, shedding some light on how they traded in U.S. stocks in the first quarter.
The filings also showed just how much Apple Inc's star dimmed in the first quarter.
Chase Coleman's $12 billion Tiger Global Management sold 790,000 Apple shares in the quarter, while Cliff Asness's $80 billion AQR Capital Management sold about 150,000 shares.
But the regulatory filings only tell a small portion of the story because they offer no explanation for a fund's buying and selling of U.S. stocks. The filings also don't require money managers to disclose short positions, or bets a stock will decline in price.
So there is no way of knowing what motivated Coatue to exit shares of Supervalu, which doubled in price in the first quarter, after the grocery chain struck a deal in January to sell some of its supermarket chains to Cerberus Capital Management for $3.3 billion. Similarly, it is not clear what prompted JANA and Omega to jump into the stock, but it could be the funds see the chain as a turnaround story.
The 13-F filings then are an imperfect look into the stock trading strategy of large funds. It is also important to note that in the 45 days since the first quarter ended, some of the reported stock positions may have changed.
Jeffrey Gundlach, a co-founder of DoubleLine Capital, a $60 billion bond shop that is moving into equity investing, said he never looks at other manager's 13-F filings.
With that caveat, here is how big money managers traded in the first quarter, broken down by sectors and actively traded stocks:
Appaloosa Management, a $14 billion hedge fund led by David Tepper, reduced its stake in Apple by 40 percent to 540,000 shares.
Coatue Management added 562,546 shares of Apple, lifting its total stake in the iPhone and iPad manufacturer to 1.2 million shares.
Farallon Capital Management, a $20 billion hedge funded led by Andrew Spokes, took a new 2.46 million-share stake in computer manufacturer Dell Inc, which is embroiled in a contentious corporate buyout.
JANA, which has a reputation for shareholder activism, opened a new 25.5 million-share stake in online social gaming company Zynga Inc.
JANA also opened a 21.9 million-share position in online coupon company Groupon.
Passport Capital, a $3.7 billion fund led by John Burbank, opened up a 2.2 million-share position in Yahoo Inc. But Tiger Global sold 14 million shares.
Appaloosa reduced its holdings in several financial stocks. The hedge fund, for instance, cut its stake in American International Group Inc by 29 percent to 4.3 million shares. Meanwhile, Seth Klarman's $28 billion Baupost Group increased its stake in AIG by 70 percent to 11.9 million shares.
Farallon raised its stake in American Express Co by 2.1 million shares.
Eton Park Capital Management, a $19.4 billion fund led by Eric Mindich, reduced its stake in Sprint Nextel Corp to 18.5 million shares from 23.1 million.
OMEGA sold all of its shares of health insurers Humana Inc and Wellpoint Inc.