Investors — including many hedge funds — were lining up to buy Chinese e-tailer Alibaba before its IPO last year. Moreover, the company and its stock had been riding high since then, with the share price hitting $120 in mid-November. However, poor results for the most recent quarter hammered the share price in late January when it dropped from around $105 to below $90 (trading at $86.72 as of 11:30 AM ET Friday).
The earnings miss was apparently not a big surprise to many hedge funds, however, as they offloaded around a third of their holdings (30 million shares) in the fourth quarter of 2014 just before the earnings miss was reported.
Alibaba losing its luster with hedge funds
Hedge funds only held around 2.7% of Alibaba shares at the end of the year, based on data from Novus Partners, a decline of one-third from 4% of Alibaba shares at the end of the third quarter.
Also of note, Alibaba went from the 7th most popular hedge-fund holding at the end of the third quarter to the 20th, according to research firm AlphaClone.
Funds that sold Alibaba include Appaloosa Management, Eton Park Capital Management, Highfields Capital Management and Omega Advisors. Of note, Viking Global Investors and Maverick Capital both scaled back their positions.
Keep in mind that hedge funds trade in and out of positions regularly, so quarterly SEC filings are just a one-time snapshot of holdings.
Tiger cub positions in Alibaba
Tiger cub related hedge funds as a whole reduced their Alibaba holdings by close to a half-billion dollars, based on the closing price of Alibaba shares at the end of the year, according to Novus.
This is not really surprising as the “Tiger Cubs,” “Tiger Seeds” and “Tiger Grandcubs” share investing philosophies and very often trade similarly.
A few well-known investors are are still supporting Alibaba. Tiger Global Management, known for its pre-IPO investments in tech firms such as Facebook and Zynga has recently purchased 5.8 million shares of the firm. Dan Loeb’s Third Point also upped its stake in Alibaba to 10 million shares, adding 2.8 million shares in the fourth quarter..