By Sam Forgione, Katya Wachtel and Svea Herbst-Bayliss
NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) - Top U.S. hedge fund managers in the third quarter zoned in on the consumer sector, with investment plays ranging from Sotheby's
Ellington Management Group LLC, a $5.5 billion investment firm founded by Michael Vranos, took a new position in Sotheby's, as did Eric Mindich's Eton Park Capital Management.
Ellington owned 71,500 shares at the end of the third quarter while Eton Park opened an 1.94 million stake.
Daniel Loeb's Third Point, the largest shareholder in New York City-based Sotheby's with a 9.3 percent stake, has been pushing for a management shake-up.
Farallon Capital Management, a San Francisco based-hedge fund, and activist investor Jana Partners LLC opened new positions in ailing retailer J.C. Penney with 500,000 shares and 489,600 shares, respectively.
David Tepper's Appaloosa Management also picked up a stake in J.C. Penney, 737,800 shares.
Patrick McCormack's Tiger Consumer Management, meanwhile, sold out of its entire J.C. Penney exposure, dumping roughly 5.4 million shares.
The quarterly disclosures of manager stock holdings - in so-called 13F filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission - are always intriguing for investors trying to divine a pattern in what savvy traders are selling and buying.
But relying on the filings to develop an investment strategy comes with some peril, because the disclosures are backward looking and come out 45 days after the end of each quarter.
Still, the filings offer a glimpse into what hedge fund managers saw as opportunities to make money on the long side. The filings don't disclose short positions - bets that a stock will fall in price. And there's also little disclosure on bonds and other securities that do not trade on exchanges.
Upon request, the SEC also permits managers to omit sensitive stock positions from 13F filings. As a result, the public filings don't always present a complete picture of a manager's stock holdings.
Here then are some of the hot stocks and sectors in which hedge fund managers either took new positions or exited from in the third quarter.
VIKING GLOBAL INVESTORS
Andreas Halvorsen's Viking opened a huge new stake in Bank of America Corp
Viking took a new position in Facebook Inc
Viking sold its entire stake in Apple Inc
Carl Icahn's Icahn Enterprises revealed his stake in Apple was 3.9 million shares. Icahn added 6.8 million shares to his stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp
Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisors opened a stake in Realogy Holdings Corp
Cooperman also bought about 2.85 million shares of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
Omega increased its Citigroup Inc
Omega sold out of its smallish 31,000-share position in Apple and its 4,850-share stake in Google Inc
Tiger Consumer Management
Tiger reduced its Herbalife Ltd. stake
Duquesne Family Office
Duquesne, founded by Stanley Druckenmiller, closed a position in Procter & Gamble Co
Farallon Capital Management
Farallon also opened a position in Microsoft Corp
Farallon dramatically reduced its stake in Yahoo to about 1.8 million shares from 11.275 million shares. It also reduced its Visa Inc stake
TIGER GLOBAL MANAGEMENT
Chase Coleman and Feroz Dewan's Tiger Global Management opened a Yahoo stake of 8 million shares and increased its Netflix Inc
Tiger Global also increased its Motorola Solutions stake to 3,750,000 shares from 3 million.
John Burbank's Passport Capital closed its position in FedEx Corp.
George Soros' Soros Fund Management LLC opened a FedEx position of about 1.5 million shares, with a 375,000-share call option.
And John Paulson's hedge fund, Paulson & Co picked up 646,800 shares of the company last quarter as well.
TIGER VEDA MANAGEMENT
Manish Chopra's Tiger Veda Management sold its stakes in Apple and Google in the third quarter. The firm sold 41,365 shares of Apple and 9,232 class A shares of Google.
Philippe Laffont's Coatue Management cut its stake in Apple by 1.1 million shares to 442,222 shares and its stake in Groupon Inc
Coatue also opened a new stake in Facebook of 9.2 million class A shares.
ETON PARK CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
Eton doubled its stake in Moody's Corp
(Writing by Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)