January 20, 2015 / 1:20 PM / 5 years ago

Fidelity's Contrafund cuts Google stake over data center costs

People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

BOSTON (Reuters) - Fidelity’s $110 Billion Contrafund has trimmed a roughly $7 billion stake in Google Inc because of portfolio manager Will Danoff’s view that the stock faces a potentially choppy market over the short term.

Contrafund is the largest U.S. mutual fund investor in Google’s stock, which had been its top holding. But Google shares, down 11 percent over the past year, have hurt the performance of Contrafund and other large cap funds that have taken an overweight position in the company.

“We trimmed the position based on our view that the stock’s short-term performance could remain choppy as investors digest the company’s increased investment in data centers, as well as other initiatives not directly tied to its core search business,” Contrafund said in its fourth-quarter update for investors.

Contrafund held Google stock worth $7.06 billion, or 6.4 percent of the fund’s assets, according to an end of November holdings update. Google, when combining Class A and Class C shares, was the fund’s largest holding. After the recent reduction, the stock remained one of the largest positions and overweightings in the fund. No precise figure was given for Google’s two share classes in the latest quarterly update.

“We reduced the position, but continued to hold a meaningful overweighting in the company based on our view that it is best of breed in its industry, with a solid management team and a promising asset base,” it said in the investor update.

Danoff’s savvy tech picks have made him one of the best performing U.S. portfolio managers over the past 20 years. But he has lagged the S&P 500 Index over the past 12 months, with a total return of 7.22 percent versus the benchmark’s 11.66 percent advance, according to Morningstar Inc data.

Contrafund has been hurt by avoiding utility stocks, which have received higher share price multiples despite slow earnings growth. Danoff also continues to avoid big oil companies, and the energy sector remained the fund’s largest underweighting throughout the fourth quarter as the price of oil plummeted.

“We will closely monitor further developments with an eye out for potential bargains if we think dynamics in the industry improve,” it said in the update.

Reporting by Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Paul Simao

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