(Adds Third Point, Farallon Capital Management, Leonard Green)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - Top U.S. hedge fund management firms, including Dan Loeb's Third Point LLC and Farallon Capital Management, trimmed some of their equity exposure in eBay Inc but kept high stake positions in the e-commerce company's shares during the first quarter, according to regulatory filings.
Third Point cut its stake in eBay by 1 million shares to 9 million shares while Farallon cuts its eBay equity position by 27 percent to own 1.8 million shares. Activist hedge fund Jana Partners LLC, however, raised its stake by about 49 percent to own 20 million shares during the first quarter.
MD Sass Investors Services liquidated its position in eBay, selling 626,520 shares.
Leonard Green & Partners, L.P., one of the nation's leading private equity firms with over $15 billion, revealed on Friday that it held 9.2 million class A shares in Shake Shack Inc as of March 31. Shares in Shake Shack, which were sold in an initial public offering at $21 in January, jumped nearly 10 percent on the Leonard Green news to $72 a share on Friday.
Leonard Green also took a new 990,000 share stake in Bed Bath and Beyond Inc.
Also, top U.S. hedge fund management firms, including Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisors and Philippe Laffont's Coatue Management, continued to reduce or slash stakes altogether in Apple Inc during the first quarter as shares of the iPhone maker rallied.
The actions 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.
The disclosures are backward-looking and come out 45 days after the end of each quarter. Still, the filings offer a glimpse into what hedge fund managers saw as opportunities on the long side.
The filings do not disclose short positions. As a result, the public filings do not always present a complete picture of a management firm's stock holdings.
The following are some of the hot stocks and sectors in which hedge fund managers either took new positions or exited existing stakes in the first quarter.
Activist fund ValueAct bought an additional 12 million shares of Halliburton, raising the firm's stake to 33 million shares. Omega Advisors and Alyeska Investment Group liquidated their stakes in Halliburton.
Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates said it opened a new position in Agrium, buying 97,162 shares, and ValueAct trimmed its position by selling 231,893 shares to own 7.9 million shares.
Tiger Veda Management took a new position in solar company SunEdison, buying 274,505 shares.
Barry Rosenstein's Jana Partners raised its stake in the car-rental company by 20 percent to 41.8 million shares. The shares rose 6 percent on Friday after the disclosure in Jana's filings, as well as Hertz posting its review of first-quarter results at the close on Thursday.
Omega Advisors raised its share stake in JPMorgan Chase & Co by 17.1 percent to 1.1 million shares during the first quarter. (Compiled by Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Andre Grenon and Alan Crosby)