By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Closely-watched U.S. hedge fund managers were generally bearish on the FAANG group of high-flying tech stocks in the second quarter, with eight such investors in aggregate cutting or liquidating 18 stakes in the companies, regulatory filings showed.
The group comprises Facebook <FB.O>, Amazon <AMZN.O>, Apple <AAPL.O>, Netflix <NFLX.O> and Google parent Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O>, each of which have roughly followed broader U.S. indexes including the benchmark S&P 500 <.SPX>, Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI>, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> to record highs in recent months.
A Reuters analysis of filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed that Coatue Management, Omega Advisors, Third Point, Tiger Global Management, Appaloosa Management, Paulson & Co, Soros Fund Management and Greenlight Capital in aggregate slashed 16 stakes, sold two stakes, increased six stakes, opened two new stakes, and maintained two positions in the so-called FAANG stocks in the three months ended June 30.
Daniel Loeb's Third Point increased its stake in Alphabet by 120,000 class A shares to 575,000 and increased its position in Facebook by 500,000 class A shares to 3.5 million in the second quarter, according to the filings.
Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisors took a generally bearish stance overall and cut its stake in Facebook by 26,700 class A shares to 236,200. It also cut its stake in Netflix by 12,700 shares to 65,000 shares and trimmed its stake in Amazon by 8,900 shares to 10,500 shares. Omega kept its stake in Alphabet of 158,835 class A shares unchanged.
Cooperman told CNBC last week that Alphabet was his biggest position and that his investment in the company’s shares amounted to about 4-4.5 percent of his fund.
Soros Fund Management sold its entire stake in Alphabet of 1,300 class A shares, cut its stake in Facebook Inc by 161,373 class A shares to 476,713, sold its entire stake in Netflix of 131,966 shares, but took a new stake in Amazon of 7,500 shares.
Tiger Global Management, led by Chase Coleman, cut its stake in Amazon by 110,120 shares to 1.2 million shares and trimmed its stake in Netflix by 52,600 shares to 376,400. Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management trimmed its stake in Netflix by 17,909 shares to 3 million shares.
Coatue cut its stake in Apple by 46,060 shares to 2.9 million shares, while David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital also cut its position by 42,400 shares to 3.9 mln shares. John Paulson's Paulson & Co took a new stake, however, of 12,300 shares and David Tepper's Appaloosa Management increased its stake by 325,000 shares to 625,000.
All of the FAANG stocks rose in the second quarter, with Alphabet surging the most - by 9.7 percent - and Apple the least at a meager 0.3 percent. All of the stocks have built on gains so far in the third quarter, with Netflix gaining the most at 14.5 percent and Alphabet the least at 1 percent.
Daniel Morgan, who helps manage about $12 billion at Synovus Trust Company in Atlanta, said the firm owned all of the FAANG stocks, with the smallest position being Netflix. He said the streaming video company was vulnerable to stiff competition.
"I’m kind of worried that, five years from now, we’re not going to be talking about Netflix like we don’t go and drop our discs off at Blockbuster anymore," Morgan said. “There are enough issues out there to keep us from having it as a large position."
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Tom Brown)