Ellington buys Sotheby's shares; hedge funds buy J.C. Penney

BOSTON/NEW YORK Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:05pm EST

BOSTON/NEW YORK Nov 14 (Reuters) - Top U.S. hedge fund managers in the third quarter bought and sold shares of such hotly debated companies as Herbalife Ltd, J.C. Penney Co and Sotheby's.

Ellington Management Group LLC, a $5.5 billion investment firm founded by Michael Vranos, took a new position in auction house Sotheby's and owned 71,500 shares at the end of the quarter.

Daniel Loeb's Third Point, the largest shareholder in New York City-based Sotheby's with a 9.3 percent stake, has been pushing for a management shake-up.

Farallon Capital Management, a San Francisco based-hedge fund, and activist investor Jana Partners LLC opened new positions in ailing retailer J.C. Penney with 500,000 shares and 489,600 shares, respectively.

Patrick McCormack's Tiger Consumer Management, meanwhile, sold out of its entire J.C. Penney exposure, dumping roughly 5.4 million shares.

The quarterly disclosures of manager stock holdings - in so-called 13F filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission - is always intriguing for investors trying to divine a pattern in what savvy traders are selling and buying.

But relying on the filings to develop an investment strategy comes with some peril, because the disclosures are backward looking and come out 45 days after the end of each quarter.

Still, the filings can offer a glimpse into what hedge fund managers saw as opportunities to make money on the long side. The filings don't disclose short positions - bets that a stock will fall in price. And there's also little disclosure on bonds and other securities that do not trade on exchanges.

Upon request, the SEC also permits managers to omit sensitive stock positions from 13F filings. As a result, the public filings don't always present a complete picture of a manager's stock holdings.

Here then are some of the hot stocks and sectors in which hedge fund managers either took new positions or exited from in the third quarter.

Tiger Consumer Management

Tiger reduced its Herbalife stake to 768,252 shares from 2.1 million shares in the previous quarter and sold out of its Facebook Inc and J.C. Penney positions. Tiger opened a large stake in Pandora Media of 2.9 million shares.

Duquesne Family Office

Duquesne, founded by Stanley Druckenmiller, closed a position in Procter & Gamble, selling 566,300 shares. The firm also took a new position in Herbalife, buying 79,000 shares

Farallon Capital Management

Farallon also opened a position in Microsoft Corp of about 3.8 million shares and bought about 26.8 million shares of Dell Inc, which has since been taken private by founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners.

Farallon dramatically reduced its stake in Yahoo Inc stake to about 1.8 million shares from 11.275 millon shares. It also reduced its Visa stake to 355,000 shares from 560,000 shares.

TIGER GLOBAL MANAGEMENT

Chase Coleman and Feroz Dewan's Tiger Global Management opened a Yahoo stake of 8 million shares and increased its Netflix Inc. stake to 440,000 shares from 315,000.

Tiger Global also increased its Motorola Solutions stake to 3,750,000 shares from 3 million.

TIGER VEDA MANAGEMENT

Manish Chopra's Tiger Veda Management sold its stakes in technology giants Apple Inc and Google Inc in the third quarter. The firm sold its stake of 41,365 shares of Apple and its 9,232-share stake in Google.

COATUE MANAGEMENT

Philippe Laffont's Coatue Management cut its stake in Apple by 1.1 million shares to 442,222 shares and its stake in Groupon by 1.8 million shares to 2.2 million shares. Coatue also opened a new stake in Facebook of 9.2 million shares.