CORRECTED-HIGHLIGHTS-Top U.S. hedge funds cut Apple stakes ahead of all-time high

Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:06am EST
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(Corrects Apple's intraday high in paragraph 2)

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Sam Forgione

NEW YORK Feb 17 (Reuters) - Top U.S. hedge fund management firms, including David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital and Philippe Laffont's Coatue Management, reduced their stakes in Apple Inc during the fourth quarter, ahead of the iPhone maker's strong rally in 2015, according to regulatory filings.

Apple was a big winner in 2014, with its shares rising nearly 38 percent. The company's stock is up more than 16 percent year to date and reached an intraday record high of $128.88 per share. Last week, its stock market value rose above $700 billion, bigger than Switzerland's gross domestic product.

Although Apple is the biggest position in Coatue Management's portfolio, the firm sold 1.7 million shares at the end of the quarter, or more than 15 percent of its stake, leaving it with 8.9 million shares, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

In a filing on Friday, Greenlight said it cut Apple holdings by 6.2 percent to 8.6 million shares during the quarter.

Eric Mandelblatt's Soroban Capital Partners sold 4.3 million Apple call options, liquidating the fund's position. And David Tepper's Appaloosa Management hedge fund said it had dissolved its stake in Apple, while Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisors sold 808,000 Apple shares to own 383,790 shares at the end of the fourth quarter.

Last week, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said the technology company's shares should be trading at $216 apiece, equivalent to a market capitalization of $1.26 trillion.

The actions by Greenlight and Coatue were revealed in quarterly disclosures of manager stock holdings, known as 13F filings, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. They are of great interest to investors trying to divine a pattern in what savvy traders are selling and buying.   Continued...