Jana Partners Exits Stakes in J.C. Penney, Agrium in Quarter

Jana Partners LLC, the $8 billion hedge-fund firm run by Barry Rosenstein, exited its stakes in struggling retailer J.C. Penney Co. and Agrium Inc. last quarter, while increasing holdings in drugstore chain Walgreen Co. and automaker General Motors Co.

The fund sold its 500,000 shares in Plano, Texas-based retailer J.C. Penney during the fourth quarter, which had a market value of $4.4 million as of Sept. 30. The department store chain’s list of top investors has been in flux in the past year as Chief Executive Officer Mike Ullman sought to boost sales and cut costs to stem two years of losses.

Jana also exited its stake in Calgary-based Agrium, the largest U.S. farm-products retailer, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today. Agrium was the New York-based hedge fund’s largest U.S.-listed stock holding as of Sept. 30, when the fund reported 8.19 million shares valued at $688 million.

Jana is an event-driven fund, generally investing in companies undergoing shifts such as mergers, spinoffs and bankruptcies, and is known for pushing management to make changes. Charles Penner, a partner at the firm, declined to comment on the filing.

The firm increased its position in Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreen by about 6 million shares to 7.3 million shares valued at $422 million. Jana also bought 7.57 million shares of Detroit-based GM, bringing its total holding to almost 8 million shares worth $326 million as of Dec. 31.

Bass Investment

Other investors are indicating confidence in the auto industry’s recovery, including Hayman Capital Management LP. The Dallas-based hedge-fund firm founded by J. Kyle Bass held 4.61 million shares of GM at the end of 2013. He said last year that GM should increase in value by more than 40 percent in 12 to 18 months. The largest U.S. automaker said last month that it will pay a quarterly dividend of 30 cents a share in March. Detroit-based GM’s predecessor stopped paying dividends in 2008 to preserve cash before its bankruptcy the following year.

Money managers who oversee more than $100 million in U.S. equities must file a Form 13F within 45 days of the end of each quarter to list their holdings in stocks that trade on U.S. exchanges, as well as options and convertible debt. Hedge funds are lightly regulated pools of capital whose managers can invest in any asset and share in annual profits.

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