After posting disappointing results in 2014, the average hedge fund finished January in positive territory, but only by a smidge, according to London-based Preqin. The data provider’s All-Strategies Hedge Fund benchmark returned 0.07 percent for the month. The biggest gains came from commodity trading advisers, which returned 3.10 percent for the month and are up 14.72 percent for the past 12 months. On the other hand, emerging markets funds lost money for the fifth straight month, falling 1.21 percent in January. They are down by 3.03 percent over the past 12 months, according to Preqin. Equity strategies fell by 0.09 percent in January but gained 4.62 percent over the past 12 months.
Hedge funds plowed into the energy sector in the final quarter of 2014, taking advantage of rapidly falling oil prices, according to a New York TimesDealBook report. Daniel Loeb’s New York-based Third Point scooped up five million shares of Phillips 66, while Leon Cooperman’s New York-based Omega Advisors took a 2.1 million stake in Laredo Petroleum and a 652,500 stake in Sanchez Energy. But Omega simultaneously shed 29 percent of its stake in SandRidge Energy, bringing its holdings down to 32.2 million shares as of the end of the quarter. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Ubben’s ValueAct Capital invested in oil field servicers Halliburton and Baker Hughes, which agreed to merge in November in a $34.6 billion deal. Ubben’s stakes in the two companies amounted to $900 million each.
Major hedge fund holders of Apple, long a popular stock with the so-called smart-money set, pared back their bets in the fourth quarter after the stock posted a stellar 2014, according to a Reuters report. Tiger Cub Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management trimmed its stake in the iPhone maker by 15 percent, leaving the New York-based hedge fund with 8.9 million shares, still the largest position in its portfolio at the end of the quarter. David Einhorn’s New York-based Greenlight Capital cut its stake by 6.2 percent and now holds 8.6 million shares. Eric Mandelblatt’s New York-based hedge fund firm Soroban Capital Partners sold 4.3 million Apple call options, while David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management shed its stake in the company entirely, according to the report. Apple gained approximately 38 percent last year.