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Ackman Moves Away From Three Key Stocks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Bill Ackman's Pershing Square hedge fund added no new holdings in the first quarter, a time when stocks rallied. Instead, he unloaded shares in what had been three core holdings.

The biggest changes to his portfolio were made in Fortune Brands (FBHS), Family Dollar (FDO) and Kraft (KFT). Each position was reduced by 5.5 to 7.5 million shares.

The total value of Ackman's portfolio at the end of March was over $8 billion, up 3.7% from three months earlier. The three stocks that were trimmed increased, on average, by 13% during the quarter.

The most notable change came in Family Dollar, which at the end of the quarter only represented 1.2% of the portfolio versus 3.5% at the end of 2011, making it his smallest investment.

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Ackman is known for making big investments in companies and then pushing for asset sales or other strategic changes he believes will boost the stock price. Fortune Brands and Beam split in October when they began trading separately, a transaction Ackman pushed for when her began building a position in the combined company in 2010. Now Beam operates the liquor business (Maker's Mark and Jim Beam) and Fortune Brands now encompasses the home and security business (Master Lock and Moen).

Both stocks have jumped, with Beam up 30% and Fortune Brands up 79% since they began trading separately. While Ackman didn't trim his position in Beam, taking some profits in Fortune Bands was clearly a prudent move.

Ackman's position in Kraft has been reduced over the past two quarters, as the company approaches a split of its grocery and snack businesses into two separately traded companies later this year. Ackman, along with a handful of other investors, had discussions with management regarding a split of the company prior to management officially announcing the plan.

Canadian Pacific (CP) remains Ackman's fourth-largest position. He is involved in a proxy fight with the company to get a seven-person slate of his own directors elected to the board. In addition, he is pushing for a new CEO. His candidate is former Canadian National Railway (CNI) CEO Hunter Harrison. Ackman added to his position in the railroad company, giving him a 14.1% ownership stake.

>>View Bill Ackman's Portfolio

Ackman also added small amounts to positions in Alexander & Baldwin (ALEX) and Citigroup (C).

General Growth Partners (GGP) remains Ackman's largest holding, at 32.7% of the portfolio.

--Written by Lindsey Bell in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to Lindsey Bell.

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