Highlights: Money managers find some tech darlings in Q3

(Reuters) - Warren Buffett loves technology giant IBM. David Einhorn backed away from drug company Pfizer. Viking Global’s Halvorsen turned his back on some of the world’s biggest financial companies. And Coatue Capital Management’s Philippe Laffont is betting on a rebound in shares of beaten down BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion.

Or at least that’s what quarterly regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed.

For Wall Street, the third quarter was a tumultuous one with stocks swinging widely over fears about the potential for another U.S. recession and the still unresolved debt crisis in Europe.

And for U.S. money managers it was a time to make big shifts in their portfolios either to escape the carnage or position themselves for a fourth-quarter rebound.

With the release of so-called 13-F filings, investors began to get insight into the reaction of money managers to macro-economic events. But as is always the case with 13-F filings, this is backward looking information that very well could have changed since the end of the third quarter on September 30.

One early theme that is emerging is that many money managers were looking to invest new money into tech stocks in the third quarter.


Buffett, one of the world’s most closely watched investors, has tended to favor financial and industrial companies. But in the third quarter his Berkshire Hathaway Inc made a bold move into International Business Machines, taking a 5.5 percent stake.

Laffont’s Coatue hedge fund is best-known for making tech bets and in the third-quarter took a position in shares of RIM, which have fallen 70 percent this year. Coatue’s accumulation of 1.5 million shares of the Blackberry maker comes as some hedge funds are agitating for at management shake-up or sale of the company.

Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors also is seeing opportunity to make money in RIM’s beaten down shares. His fund bought 1.43 million shares last quarter. Cooperman has said the BlackBerry’s new operating system will lead to a rebound in sales.


Cooperman’s Omega also jumped into Qualcomm in the third quarter, accumulating 1.36 million shares. But at the same time Laffont’s fund cut its stake in the wireless chip manufacturer nearly in half to 3.9 million shares.

Dinakar Singh’s TPG-Axon Capital, after building a 37 million-share stake in Sprint Nextel in the second quarter, unloaded all of that stock in the third quarter, a filing shows. In recent weeks, Sprint has drawn criticism from investors and analysts over its wireless telecom strategy.


Andreas Halvorsen’s Viking Global no longer lists owning JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and BlackRock. But the manager massively increased US Bancorp to 24.5 million shares from 9.7 million and added a brand new holding of 6 million shares of Citigroup.


Einhorn told his investors that he liquidated his position in drugmaker Pfizer, which, at 23.4 million shares, was his biggest at the end of the second quarter.


Third-quarter filings also showed what hedge funds did with two one-time momentum plays, video rental company Netflix and coffee company Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Both stocks have fallen on hard times, with Green Mountain tumbling hard after Einhorn publicly said he was betting against, or shorting, the stock.

Laffont’s Coatue dumped its Netflix shares but remains a big holder of Green Mountain, according to the filings.

Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management owned Netflix in the second quarter but no longer listed it in the third quarter.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Aaron Pressman, Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Matthew Goldstein and Steve Orlofsky