May 15, 2019 / 10:43 PM / a month ago

Big U.S. hedge funds regain ardor for FAANGs in first quarter - filings

(Reuters) - Some of the biggest, highest-profile U.S. hedge fund investors and money managers fell back in love with FAANGs in the first quarter, according to regulatory filings released on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS/File Photos

After dumping shares of Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc - the FAANG components - prominent hedge fund managers including Tiger Global Management LLC have moved back into the popular group.

Tiger, managed by Chase Coleman, boosted its Facebook stake by 64.5% to 8.8 million class A shares during the first quarter, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It increased its stake in streaming company Netflix by 42.8% to 2.1 million shares. Soros Fund Management LLC opened a new stake in Netflix, holding 50,000 shares, at the end of March.

T. Rowe Price also added Facebook shares during the first quarter, increasing its stake by 19% to 107.9 million shares, as of the end of first quarter.

Netflix shares gained 2.7% to close at $354.99 and Facebook gained 3.1% to close at $186.27.

FAANG’s return to vogue in 2019 has mostly outpaced the broader market’s recovery, with Netflix surging 33% year to date, despite slowing user expansion and the threat of Walt Disney Co’s upcoming video streaming service. Facebook has surged more than 40% in 2019 as investors bet that regulatory threats and calls to break up the world’s largest social network will not endanger its meteoric growth in ad sales.

High-flying FAANG stocks came back to earth late last year amid fears that a decade-old bull market was fading.

“Facebook’s stock price has been hammered on the back of recent controversies, making what was already a very attractive return outlook for the stock even brighter,” Paul Greene, portfolio manager of the T. Rowe Price Communications & Technology Fund and Facebook analyst for the firm, wrote at the end of 2018. “In my view, all the worries surrounding Facebook have been more than discounted in the stock, and we have been eagerly adding to our position.”

For a graphic illustration of FAANG back in favour, click: tmsnrt.rs/2WKFg1u

Quarterly disclosures of hedge fund managers’ stock holdings in 13F filings with the SEC are one of a few public ways of tracking what the managers are buying and selling. But the disclosures are made 45 days after the end of each quarter and may not reflect current positions.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc said it owned $860.6 million of Amazon shares at the end of March, after the billionaire earlier this month admitted to having underestimated the online retailer and its chief executive, Jeff Bezos.

Buffett, who told CNBC in early May that Berkshire had bought Amazon shares for the first time, detailed the stake in Wednesday’s 13F filing, revealing that Berkshire took a stake in the first quarter totalling 483,300 shares.

Buffett had told CNBC that the Amazon investment was made by one of his portfolio managers, Todd Combs or Ted Weschler, and said he had been “an idiot” for not investing in Amazon himself.

Amazon shares on March 29, the last trading day of that month, closed at $1,780.85. On Wednesday they finished at $1,871.15.

Reporting by Jennifer Ablan in New York and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis

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