BOSTON Daniel Loeb scored strong gains in February in part because of a bump in the stock price of Dow Chemical Co, where the billionaire hedge fund manager is pressing for change.
Loeb's flagship Third Point Offshore Fund gained 4.4 percent last month, leaving the portfolio up 2.4 percent for the year, two people familiar with the performance said. The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 4.3 percent last month and is roughly flat for the year.
In late January, Loeb told investors that he had taken a major stake in Dow Chemical and the share price has climbed roughly 6 percent since then. Loeb, who is known to suggest improvements to management as an occasional activist investor, urged the largest U.S. chemical maker by revenue to spin off its lucrative but slow-growing petrochemical unit and focus on specialty materials.
Last week he said he was launching a proxy contest at auction house Sotheby's with the aim of securing three seats on the board.
Loeb's investment moves are closely watched because his $14 billion Third Point has long ranked among the hedge fund industry's strongest performers. Loeb ended 2013 with a 25 percent gain while the average hedge fund rose only 9.3 percent. Loeb counts state pension funds and wealthy investors among his clients but is not accepting new money from investors.
After a sluggish start to the year with small losses at many hedge funds caused by the stock market's stumble in January, investors are interested in seeing how high-profile hedge fund managers fared in February.
Barry Rosenstein's Jana Partners also posted a strong month, returning 2.8 percent after fees. The fund is up 3.2 percent for the year. His Jana Nirvana Fund fared even better, rising 4.3 percent in February to be up 5.1 percent for the year.
David Einhorn, who also started the year off with small losses, returned 0.6 percent in February, leaving his Greenlight Capital, LP down 1.3 percent for the year.
Parag Vora's HG Vora Special Opportunities Fund gained 2.9 percent in February and is up 4.6 percent for the year.
Most hedge funds are still compiling their numbers for February and Loeb and Einhorn are often among the first to report their numbers to investors.
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by David Gregorio and Chizu Nomiyama)