Soros Shifts to Europe, Asia as Investors Cut U.S. Equities

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Breaking Down Soros Fund Management's 4th-Qtr Holdings

Soros Fund Management, the family office of billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, cut holdings of U.S. stocks in the fourth quarter and shifted assets globally.

Soros, which manages almost $30 billion, moved about $2 billion into companies in Asia and Europe, according to a person familiar with the strategy. The New York-based firm returned about 8 percent in 2014 and is up 1.5 percent this year, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the firm is private.

Other big hedge fund managers made a similar call on U.S. equities as a slide in oil prices hammered energy holdings. Hedge funds held about $1.6 trillion of U.S. equities at the end of the year compared with $1.8 trillion in the prior quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, based on 886 filings.

David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management had $2.74 billion less in U.S. stocks in the fourth quarter, a 40 percent drop from the previous quarter. Louis Bacon’s $14.8 billion Moore Capital Management had $2.3 billion in U.S. equities at the end of the year, about 25 percent less than the end of September, according to regulatory filings.

Some managers, such as Leon Cooperman, 71, remain bullish on the U.S., while predicting bigger gains elsewhere.

“We expect the European and Japanese equity markets to outperform the U.S. in the coming year,” Cooperman, who runs Omega Advisors, wrote in an investor letter last month.

Anticipation of more stimulus from the European Central Bank, along with a weaker euro and expectations of solid earnings, has had an affect on sending money overseas.

Jana Partners

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index posted its best January since 1989, climbing 7.3 percent with dividends reinvested, and is up 11 percent this year. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average has gained 4.3 percent in 2015, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index had advanced 2.3 percent. The S&P 500 rose 4.4 percent last quarter.

Some funds concentrated their sales on oil and natural gas producers.

Jana Partners, the $11 billion hedge-fund firm run by Barry Rosenstein, had $2.7 billion less in U.S. holdings at the end of the fourth quarter. The New York-based firm, known for taking stakes in companies and then urging management to make changes to boost the stock price, exited its stakes in 41 U.S. stocks including QEP Resources Inc. and Apache Corp.

Hedge fund managers saw their holdings of health care, financials and consumer discretionary stocks rise during the quarter. The biggest individual increases were in Allergan Inc., Chinese e-commerce company JD.com Inc. and Tribune Media Co., according to Bloomberg data.

Soros, 84, who has a net worth of $26 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, added shares of Dow Chemical Co., sold stock in YPF SA and exited Apple Inc. His firm had 186 positions as of Dec. 31, according to a regulatory filing, down by almost a third from the previous quarter.