By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
Feb 14 (Reuters) - Top U.S. hedge fund managers in the fourth quarter zoned in on the consumer sector, with investment plays ranging from high-end auction house Sotheby's to eBay Inc, the multinational Internet consumer-to-consumer corporation.
The quarterly disclosures of manager stock holdings, in so-called 13F filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are always intriguing for investors trying to divine a pattern in what savvy traders are selling and buying.
But relying on the filings to develop an investment strategy comes with some peril because the disclosures are backward looking and come out 45 days after the end of each quarter.
Still, the filings offer a glimpse into what hedge fund managers saw as opportunities to make money on the long side. The filings don't disclose short positions, bets that a stock will fall in price. And there's also little disclosure on bonds and other securities that do not trade on exchanges.
Upon request, the SEC also permits managers to omit sensitive stock positions from 13F filings. As a result, the public filings don't always present a complete picture of a manager's stock holdings.
Here are some of the hot stocks and sectors in which hedge fund managers either took new positions or exited from in the fourth quarter.
Activist investor Marcato Capital Management, run by Mick McGuire, boosted the firm's holdings of Sotheby's by 35 percent, having bought an additional 1,200,000 shares in the auction house to now own 4,562,991.
Farallon Capital Management put on a new position in the online auction house and bought 3,295,000 shares.
Tiger Consumer Management got back into Facebook Inc after exiting it in the third quarter. The filing shows the fund owned 1,384,507 shares at the end of the fourth quarter.
Kyle Bass's Hayman Capital announced in early December that he established a position and that the 4,606,005 million shares he owned made up nearly one quarter of his portfolio.
Bridger Capital trimmed its holdings in General Motors Co by selling 155,000 shares, but the fund still owns 1,695,000 shares, which ranks the stock as the fund's fourth largest position.
Meanwhile, Bass of Hayman Capital liquidated his position, selling 436,371 shares. Tiger Consumer Management sold 368,252, cutting its stake by 47 percent.
Blue Ridge opened a new position in Apple Inc, buying 320,000 shares, while Adage Capital Partners bought 14,200 shares.
Fresh from bankruptcy and a merger with US Airways, the "new" American has become a new favorite with money managers and the stock has climbed 38.71 percent this year alone.
Hutchin Hill opened a new position with 875,000 shares.
TIME WARNER CABLE
Farallon Capital Management added to its holding of Time Warner Cable Inc in the fourth quarter by buying 1,905,500 shares. It owned 2,432,00 shares at the end of the quarter, making it the firm's biggest position.
On Thursday, a proposed all-stock deal in which Comcast Corp would take over Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion was announced.