Philippe Laffont's Coatue Management may have dumped Apple
shares in the fourth quarter, but the firm gave the tech
company a prime time slot at its annual investor meeting.
The event, held yesterday at Lincoln Center in Manhattan
with nearly 300 attendees, featured a so-called fireside chat
between Laffont and Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's senior vice
president and chief financial officer. According to people in
attendance, Oppenheimer discussed his history at Apple and the
longtime Apple investor, distributed iPad minis to
attendees. The devices cost between $329 and $659 depending on
the version. The apparent love for Apple is in contrast to the
story told by Coatue's publicly disclosed holdings: the firm
sold 54% of its Apple shares during the fourth quarter and held
$342 million of stock as of December 31, according to regulatory
filings. The stock was still the firm's fifth largest
position at yearend after Equinix, Virgin Media, Time Warner
and Liberty Global.
Apple shares fell sharply during the fourth quarter, but
Coatue has performed strongly overall. The flagship fund is up
3.9% through January 31 (offshore) and rose 17.6% net in 2012.
Through January, the firm had produced a net annualized return
of 14.1% since its 1999 inception by Tiger Management alum
Investors are happy: "We are extremely pleased with Coatue.
We invested in February last year they've just done great,"
said Austin Cooley, director of liquid strategies at the Fire
and Police Pension Association of Colorado, who didn't attend
the event. "We really like their detailed, independent
work on tech stocks like Apple."
Coatue managed $6.3 billion on January 1 in hedge fund
assets, up from $5.9 billion on July 1, according to the
Absolute Return Billion Dollar Club.
An external spokesman for Coatue, Jonathan Gasthalter of
Sard Verbinnen & Co., declined to comment. Apple did not
respond to a request.
Long a hedge fund favorite, many managers have dumped Apple
stock recently. The largest 50 hedge funds pulled more money in
the company than any other stock in the fourth quarter,
according to FactSet Research Systems, which tracks public
investment filings. "The funds reduced their holding from 1.9%
of shares outstanding to 1.3%, and Apple represented the
largest individual equity sale in six of the fifty hedge funds.
While Apple is still the most-represented, top equity holding
of the 50 largest hedge funds, the number of funds which list
Apple as the top equity holding has declined from 12 to 6 in
just one quarter," a
February 21 report said.
David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital has even sued Apple and
today sent out a press release urging fellow shareholders to
oppose the company's attempt to eliminate preferred stock from
its charter, believing the company is holding too much cash.
"We believe Apple must examine all of its options to
unlock the growing value of its balance sheet for all
shareholders," Einhorn said
in a statement. "Over the past several months, we have had
an ongoing dialogue with Apple regarding one option to do so,
namely the creation of a new security, a perpetual preferred
stock that would be distributed at no cost to Apple's existing
shareholders, and would provide an attractive, sustainable
dividend while preserving Apple's financial resources to pursue
its business strategy."
Coatue preps private equity fund