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The Morning Brief: Morgan Stanley Boosts Facebook

Morgan Stanley raised its price target on Facebook, the most popular hedge fund stock, on Wednesday. The bank lifted the target from $150 to $160 after determining that the social media pioneer is poised to deliver growth that’s 6 percent to 10 percent above Wall Street consensus forecasts in a variety of traffic- and adveritising-related metrics. And even though the bank concedes there could be a slowdown in ad revenue growth, it thinks the potential for ad revenue growth in some of Facebook’s other platforms, such as Instagram and Messenger, could make up for this, according to a report sent to clients.

Morgan Stanley’s move helped to boost the stock Wednesday by 1 percent, closing at $131.05. Facebook is by far the most popular stock among all hedge funds, held by at least 169 firms at the end of the second quarter, according to Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, 25 of 49 funds with some sort of connection to Tiger Management held positions in the stock at the end of the second quarter, according to New York–based portfolio intelligence platform Novus. Facebook is the second largest U.S. long holding of Greenwich, Connecticut-based Viking Global Investors and the third-largest U.S. long of Greenwich, Connecticut-based Lone Pine Capital.

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Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill surged 5.9 percent, to close at $438.25, one day after William Ackman’s New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management disclosed it owns 9.9 percent of the casual dining company and generally made it clear it is the hedge fund’s newest activist target. Ackman’s huge stake in Valeant Pharmaceuticals also enjoyed a strong day, surging 2.7 percent, to close at $30.27. Ackman’s Pershing Square Holdings fund was mostly flat for the first week of the month through September 6. This leaves the hedge fund down 14.3 percent for the year.

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Boston-based Nebulous raised $750,000 from four investors for Sia, which is described as a collaborative data storage platform. One of the investors is Boston-based Raptor Group Holdings, which is a private investment company backed by the Family Office of Jim Pallotta. Remember him? Pallotta, of course, is best known for being a former partner of Paul Tudor Jones II’s Tudor Investment Corp., heading up the global equities operation. Pallotta and Jones split up in early 2009, and Pallotta shut down his Raptor funds later that year.

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