Jana Partners Increases Its Activist Stakes Handily

Jana Partners is a very well-known activist fund, and it has a solid track record of effecting change in some of the companies it gets involved in. Its latest 13F filing for holdings as of September 30, 2014, showed that its stock holdings were some $19.31 billion. That is up from $16.15 billion as of June 30, 2014.

Jana Partners’ homepage even shows its strategy as “Our Strategy: Investing in Change.”

24/7 Wall St. looked through the hedge fund’s latest 13F filing with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dated Friday morning. We evaluated the new positions and the positions where the stakes were increased handily in the period between June 30 and September 30 of 2014. These were of course not the only changes seen, but they were the ones that stood out the most on first look.

Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) was a new stake, worth almost $500 million at 8,058,007 shares. This stock is up over $3 since the end of September, and the merger trend in the dollar store space is one that may not be final.

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eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) was a stake that grew handily from 1 million shares to more than 13 million, worth about $740 million. In addition, Jana had more than 5.2 million shares on a fully leveraged basis via stock options. Activists won in their effort to get eBay to break PayPal out of the auctions and marketplaces business, but the stock is still not exactly tearing up the market.

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) stake grew to 51,684,639 shares, worth $345 million, versus a prior stake of 46,987,935 shares worth $311 million. This should handily keep Jana as the third largest shareholder of the daily deals site (which wants to say it has moved on from daily deals).

Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ) was a stake that roughly doubled to 10,977,326 shares, worth almost $280 million. On top of that, there were call options controlling a fully leveraged stake of 11 million shares. Hertz shares are down again on its restatement news, but Carl Icahn has reportedly gotten involved here as well.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) was a new stake, but it was only $79.8 million via 842,268 shares, plus another 200,000 shares on a fully leveraged basis via call options. This down and out food giant may get targeted even more by activists as things just haven’t gone well for some time. Negative comparable store sales trends, even while trying to make healthier items more available, just doesn’t work for many shareholders.

PetSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM) was a stake that effectively doubled to 9,694,002 shares from a prior 4,935,034 share stake. That stake was worth some $679 million at the time. Jana may now be the largest shareholder, with a stake of more than 9%. That being said, analysts have warned that PetSmart may be hard to force into a merger.

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Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX) was a new Jana holding, worth $228 million at some 7,004,977 shares. This would make Jana the fourth largest outside holder of the stock, if the activist fund Third Point did not change its holdings from the end of June. Rackspace ended its quest to sell itself, and its stock amazingly just hit a new 52-week high.

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