Some big U.S. hedge funds loaded up on SPACS, value stocks during first quarter

NEW YORK, May 17 (Reuters) - A number of well-known U.S. hedge funds bought value stocks and blank-check acquisition companies, selling some winners from the technology-led stock rally as bond yields rose during the first quarter, filings released on Monday showed.

Special-purpose acquisition companies, known as SPACs, proved popular among hedge fund managers, with funds such as Third Point and Saschem Head adding shares of SPACs, including FinTech Acquisition Corp V and healthcare company Orion Acquisition Corp (OHPA.O) to their portfolios.

Tiger Global added shares of Revolution Healthcare Acquisition Corp and Soaring Eagle Acquistion Corp and trimmed its position in Facebook Inc.

Activist investor Starboard Value invested in a string of other so-called SPACS that exist to buy private companies and take them public, including Montes Archimedes Acquisition Corp, Altimar Acquisition Corp, Churchill Capital Corp II and Forest Road Acquisition Corp. L1N2N12WM

Over 400 SPACs have listed their shares since the start of 2021, though the majority are underperforming the broad stock market, a Reuters analysisshowed. read more

At the same time, several hedge funds added to financial, energy and consumer companies. Third Point added a new position in Carvana Co (CVNA.N) and Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N), while Epoch Investment Partners added new positions in energy firms such as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), Pioneer Natural Resources Co (PXD.N) and Diamondback Energy Inc (FANG.O).

Billionaire Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund manager in the world, added a new position in General Motors Corp (GM.N), Ecolab Inc (ECL.N) and Johnson Controls International PLC (JCI.N) while selling out of its position in media companies, including the New York Times Co, News Corp and Discovery.

The moves into stocks that benefit from a broadly growing economy came during a quarter in which so-called value stocks - in industries such as financials and materials that rise on economic growth - surged and interest rates rose as investors positioned for a reopening of the global economy after the coronavirus pandemic.

The Russell 1000 Value index, for instance, is up 17% for the year to date, while the Russell 1000 Growth index - which is top-loaded with shares of technology companies like Apple Inc and Inc that surged during the economic lockdowns - is up 3.5% over the same time.

Bond yields, meanwhile, rose to reflect rising inflation expectations, increasing borrowing costs for consumers and companies. Consumer prices rose in April by the largest measure in 12 years, prompting some mutual fund managers to increase their cash positions and turn more defensive. read more

Hedge fund managers' positions were revealed in 13F filings that show what fund managers owned at the end of the quarter. While they are backward-looking, these filings are one of the few public disclosures of hedge fund portfolios and are closely watched for clues on trends and what stocks certain fund managers are favoring.

They do not disclose the date a purchase was made during the quarter.

Some hedge fund managers unloaded shares of companies that performed well over the last year, suggesting they see limited gains ahead. Epoch Investment Partners, for example, liquidated its position in Under Armour Inc, which is up 34% for the year to date, and cut its position in Amazon by roughly 46%.

Third Point, meanwhile, sold out of its position in Alibaba Inc.

Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Dan Grebler

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