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Coatue, Whale Rock Among Hedge Funds Trimming Pandemic Plays

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·5-min read
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(Bloomberg) -- As the world begins to emerge from lockdown, some hedge funds are slashing technology investments that thrived in the work-from-home era.

Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management slashed many of its tech holdings that have benefited from the pandemic-induced lockdowns, including most of its stake in fitness-equipment maker Peloton Interactive Inc. The fund cut its exposure to cyber-security solutions company Crowdstrike Holdings Inc. and and Zoom Video Communications Inc. in half. Overall, its exposure to technology stocks fell by about 8%, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Alex Sacerdote’s Whale Rock Capital Management exited its investment in Zoom, and decreased stakes in Peloton and Crowdstrike. The hedge fund trimmed its overall exposure to tech stocks by about 5%, Bloomberg data show.

The filings offer a glimpse into the maneuvering by major hedge fund managers and other investors during the first quarter of 2021, a tumultuous period for the industry marked by a Reddit-fueled trading frenzy and the implosion of Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management. At the same time, investors are looking toward a post-Covid 19 economic recovery where the world gradually reopens and people return to work.

On average, hedge funds gained 4.6% in the first three months of the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That lagged behind the S&P 500 Index, which rose 6.2% on a total-return basis.

Lee Ainslie’s Maverick Capital joined fellow so-called Tiger cub Coatue in trimming its overall exposure to tech stocks by almost 17%, Bloomberg data show. It ditched minor holdings in Zoom and DocuSign Inc., a popular app for signing contracts and other documents digitally.

Trading in Amazon.com Inc., which had soared in the pandemic amid a boom in online shopping by customers stuck at home, was a mixed bag among the Tiger cubs. While both Maverick and Coatue added to their holdings of the behemoth retailer, Viking Global Management slightly trimmed its exposure. Shares of Amazon have climbed 5.7% since the end of the first quarter and are little changed this year.

Other findings from first quarter 13F filings include:

Financials were key as they broadly trailed other cyclical sectors due in part to low interest rates. Dan Sundheim’s D1 Capital liquidated its stake in JPMorgan Chase & Co., jettisoning a position worth more than $1 billion as of March 31. Viking also decreased its JPMorgan stake, but started a new position in Bank of America Corp. Stan Druckenmiller’s Duquesne took a new position in Citigroup Inc. and has a small holding in JPMorgan. Berkshire Hathaway Inc., meanwhile, cut its position in Wells Fargo. ValueAct dumped its remaining stake in Morgan Stanley.GameStop Corp. was among the companies that skyrocketed during the Reddit-fueled trading frenzy at the beginning of the year. Maverick Capital exited its stake in the video-game retailer, valued at $88 million at the end of December, when the shares traded at $18.84. GameStop shares hit a record $347.51 on Jan. 27.Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. seemed to fall out of favor with some hedge funds in the first three months of the year as China’s crackdown on the technology sector weighed on the e-commerce giant. It was a top exit for Third Point and Coatue; Soroban Capital Partners trimmed its stake.George Soros’s investment firm was among those that capitalized on the distressed remains of Archegos. His Soros Fund Management snapped up shares of ViacomCBS Inc., Discovery Inc. and Baidu Inc. as they were being sold off in massive blocks during the collapse of Archegos at the end of March. Coatue also started smaller new positions in three of the names in the quarter: a $148 million stake in Farfetch Ltd., a $147 million position in RLX Technology Inc. and a $77 million holding in ViacomCBS. And D1 Capital added 124,000 shares of Shopify Inc. for a stake valued at $137 million. Elliott Management Corp. disclosed it held a $95 million stake in Discovery Inc.David Tepper’s Appaloosa also took a toehold in five of the stocks that Archegos had to divest, including Shopify, ViacomCBS, Discovery, Baidu and Iqiyi. The stakes had a combined value of $217 million at the end of March, and ranged in size from a $155 million investment in ViacomCBS to a $4.1 million bet on Shopify.Starboard Value jumped on a hot Wall Street trend: SPACs. The activist investor, which launched its own blank-check company last year, made relatively small investments in 18 such companies in the quarter, including ones being run by notable investors such as Michael Klein and Alex Rodriguez and private equity firms KKR & Co. and Warburg Pincus. Another activist investor, Keith Meister’s Corvex Management, also snapped up several SPAC names in the quarter.Michael Burry, the investor who rose to fame for making billions off bets against mortgage securities during the financial crisis, placed a sizable wager against Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. Burry’s Scion Asset Management owned bearish puts against 800,100 shares of the electric-car maker, worth $534 million as of March 31, according to a regulatory filing Monday.

(Updates with Amazon share performance in seventh paragraph.)

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