Consumer staples represented the largest aggregate purchases among the top 50 hedge funds during the third quarter of 2016. The hedgies bought $12.2 billion worth of stock in consumer staples companies, nearly double the funds’ purchases of $6.3 billion in second-ranked tech stocks.
Health care and consumer discretionary stocks were the most divested shares, with sales of $1.98 billion in health care stocks and $1.49 billion in consumer discretionaries.
Overall hedge funds increased their equities exposure by 2.9% in the quarter, a sharp turnaround from a 1.3% divestiture in equities during the second quarter. The data were reported to last month by FactSet.
The top purchase among the hedge funds was Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG), accounting for $8.9 billion in purchases in the consumer staples group. Coty Inc. (NYSE: COTY) nabbed sales of $1.6 billion. In the food and retailing sub-group, Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) led as the group added $1.4 billion in equity exposure.
The two favorite buys in the tech sector were Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) with $2.1 billion in purchases and Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL). In the second quarter, Apple was the second largest sale among hedge funds, trailing only Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX).
Among the health care stocks, the largest outflow came in shares of Allergan PLC (NYSE: AGN), in which hedge funds sold about $1.79 billion worth of stock.
The most widely held equity among the top 50 hedge funds is Facebook Inc. (NYSE: FB). Facebook shares are also the fifth largest holding among hedge funds and accounted for the fourth-largest sales in the third quarter with $1.4 billion in outflows.