February 16, 2016 / 3:21 PM / in 2 years

HIGHLIGHTS-Hedge funds pile into SunEdison shares ahead of plunge

NEW YORK/BOSTON, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Top U.S. hedge fund management firms, including Visium Asset Management, took stakes in embattled renewable energy company SunEdison Inc during the fourth quarter.

Visium put on a new position, buying 1.3 million shares, while Sand Grove Capital Management added a new position of 272,000 shares. Adage Capital Partners bought 9.2 million shares to own 17 million at the end of the quarter.

These hedge fund investors did not catch the bottom. Shares of SunEdison are down more than 72 percent so far this year.

All told, plenty of managers also exited SunEdison, including Senvest Management, Cobalt Capital Management and the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.

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 investment opportunities.

The filings do not disclose short positions, or bets that a stock will fall. 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 fourth quarter.

BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC

Activist investor Jeff Smith’s Starboard Value nearly doubled its holding of the healthcare company to 2.4 million shares. Hedge fund Visium Asset Management bought roughly 1 million shares to own 1.03 million shares. Fellow activist investor Jana Partners, however, had a different view, slashing its stake by half to own 5.7 million at the end of the quarter.

FREEPORT-MCMORAN COPPER AND GOLD INC - CLASS B

Passport Capital took a new stake, buying 2.8 million shares.

GENERAL ELECTRIC CO

John Burbank’s Passport Capital, one of 2016’s best performers, loaded up a new position, buying 4.9 million shares.

HERBALIFE LTD

Huber Capital trimmed its stake in the nutrition company by selling 96,800 shares to own 1.2 million shares now.

HERTZ

Jana Partners exited the car-rental company, selling 39.2 million shares.

MBIA INC

Distressed investor Marc Lasry exited the bond insurer, selling 75,000 shares.

MORGAN STANLEY

Third Point put on a new position with 3 million shares. Carlson Capital bought 2.2 million shares to own 2.3 million shares, while Adage Capital added to its position, buying 1.6 million shares to own 4.5 million shares at the end of the quarter.

MONDELEZ INTERNATIONAL INC

Some existing investors in candy and food maker Mondelez, which has caught the attention of activists Pershing Square Capital and Trian Partners, raised their stakes, including Passport Capital, which owned 1.2 million at the end of the quarter.

Zweig-Dimenna Associates bought 187,900 additional shares to own 394,650 shares. But Boston-based Adage Capital Partners cut its stake nearly in half, selling 2.2 million shares to own 2.7 million at the end of the quarter.

PFIZER INC

Activist hedge fund Jana Partners added a new stake of 9.2 million shares. Suvretta Capital added 1.9 million shares to own 2.5 million.

PIONEER NATURAL RESOURCES CO

Seth Klarman’s Baupost Group exited the stock, selling 4.1 million shares. Senator Investment Group also exited its position, selling 500,000.

VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL INC

The embattled drug maker, whose stock price tumbled last year amid questions about accounting and business practices, also saw a lot of activity. Aaron Cowen’s Suvretta, exited its position of 354,750 shares. Visium Asset Management sold its position of 1 million shares. But some investors also saw fresh value, and Jana Partners took a new position, buying 1.56 million. Brahman Capital nearly doubled its position, acquiring 4.1 million shares to own 8.1 million at the end of the quarter.

WESTROCK CO

Activist investor Starboard Value cut its stake in the packaging company by 26 percent to 4.5 million shares.

WILLIAMS COMPANIES INC

Jana Partners took a new position of 3.8 million shares.

YAHOO INC

Jet Capital added a new position, buying 2.1 million shares, while Carlson Capital bought 2.9 million shares, also a new position.

YUM BRANDS INC

Serengeti took a new position in the restaurant company, buying 135,000 shares.

ZOETIS INC

Jana Partners sold 3.9 million shares to exit the animal health company, which was spun off by Pfizer. (Reporting By Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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