When it comes to searching for profits, hedge funds have a reputation for a pretty sharp nose. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the hedgies reduced their exposure to equities by 1.5% during the period. The top 50 hedge funds sold $4.6 billion in stock during the fourth quarter, with eight of 10 sectors selling off and only the tech and utilities sectors posting a gain.
The most heavily purchased stock in the quarter was Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), as hedge funds added $2.2 billion in the company’s stock. That’s quite a contrast to the third quarter, when Apple was the second-most sold stock.
Other tech stocks with high buying interest included EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) and Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX).
The data were reported Monday by FactSet.
The most heavily sold shares during the quarter were financials, led by American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) and Lloyds Banking Group PLC (NYSE: LYG), which saw hedge funds reduce positions by $826 million and $748 million, respectively. Overall hedge funds sold $4.6 billion financial stocks during the period.
The consumer discretionary sector was the second most sold in the quarter, led by $3 billion in sales of media company stocks. Four media giants saw stock sales in excess of $400 million in the quarter: Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA), which alone saw sales of $1.3 billion; Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX); Liberty Global PLC (NASDAQ: LBTYA); and CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS).
Oddly, perhaps, the top holding of the 50 largest hedge funds is Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), which is owned by 29 of the top funds. Its stock made up 1.5% of the aggregate top funds’ portfolio.