Hedge funds get in and out of grocery chain Supervalu

NEW YORK Wed May 15, 2013 2:27pm EDT

NEW YORK May 15 (Reuters) - Barry Rosentein'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 on Tuesday 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.

In the $2.2 trillion hedge fund industry it is not uncommon for managers to move in and out of stocks. On Tuesday, hedge fund managers and other large investment firms 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.

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 is supermarket chains to Cerberus Capital Management for $3.3 billion. Similarly, it is not clear what prompted JANA to jump into the stock, or even when it accumulated most of those shares.

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.

For more on how big money managers traded in the first quarter, here is a breakdown by sectors and actively traded stocks:

APPLE

Coatue Management added 562,546 shares of Apple, bringing its total stake in the iPhone and iPad manufacturer to 1.2 million shares.

Appaloosa Management, a $14 billion hedge fund led by David Tepper, reduced its stake in Apple by 40 percent to 540,000 shares.

OTHER TECH

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.

INTERNET

JANA opened a new 25.5 million-share stake in online gaming firm Zynga. Shares of Zynga jumped 7 percent on the disclosure by the fund, which has a reputation for shareholder activism.

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!.

FINANCIALS

Appaloosa reduced its holdings in several financial stocks. The hedge fund, for instance, cut its stake in American International Group by 29 percent to 4.3 million shares.

Farallon raised its stake in American Express Co. by 2.1 million shares.