Carl Icahn made a splash on June 24 when he announced that he had sold off the remainder of his Netflix (NFLX) - Get Free Report stake, making what Business Insider estimated to be a $2 billion profit. Dan Loeb surprised many in May when a quarterly holdings disclosure revealed he had discarded his entire position in Alibaba (BABA) - Get Free Report.
Not all of the shares sold by investment pros make such a big splash, but they are worth taking a look at. Here are 10 stocks that top investors have been selling lately, (though they they haven't thrown in the towel all together).
Andreas Halvorsen's Viking Global reduced its stake in Chinese online search giant Baidu (BIDU) - Get Free Report from 2.9 million shares to 2.4 million shares in the first quarter of 2015. Lone Pine Capital, the hedge fund run by fellow "tiger cub" Steve Mandel, decreased its position for the third consecutive quarter to 5.3 million from 7 million reported the previous quarter. George Soros, also a Baidu shareholder, increased his stake slightly to about 359,000 shares.
On June 23, Baidu announced plans for a $1.25 billion public bond offering, consisting of $750 million in 3% convertible notes due in 2020 and $500 million in 4.125% notes due in 2025. After costs, the company expects to receive $1.24 million in net proceeds intended to be used for what it describes as "general corporate purposes."
Baidu's stock price has declined 12.7% in 2015 through market close Tuesday.
Chase Coleman's Tiger Globalhas had a position in Charter Communications (CHTR) - Get Free Report since 2012. It reported owning as many as 2.3 million shares at the end of the second quarter of 2014 but has since slowly scaled back its stake. As of March 31, the fund had 1.2 million Charter shares.
Buffett, who first invested in the telecommunications giant in 2014, scaled back his stake as well. He reduced his holdings to just under 6 million shares in the first quarter of 2015 from 6.2 million shares at the end of the previous quarter.
In a June 25 filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Charter promised not to harm competition with online video distributors or programmers and also said it would have no incentive to disadvantage online or traditional programmers. It also filed documentation with the SEC on June 26 in relation to shareholder votes on the merger.
Charter has gained 2.8% year-to-date.
Leon Cooperman, Larry Robbins and Dan Loeb aren't waiting around for eBay's (EBAY) - Get Free Report PayPal spinoff, which is expected to take place in the third quarter of this year. All three reduced their stakes in the e-commerce company during the first three months of 2015, although they refrained from selling out entirely. Cooperman downsized his stake to 1.8 million shares from 3.5 million, Robbins reduced his to 7.7 million from 9.7 million, and Loeb cut his to 9 million from 10 million.
Loeb has been quite vocal about eBay in the past, and in a letter to Third Point investors in the third quarter of 2014, he outlined his thesis on the investment. "While eBay's challenges were well-mapped -- including multiple years of minimal value growth, a weak execution track record, and high employee turnover -- we sensed it had arrived at a critical inflection point and gained a new focus," he wrote, adding that his team was "pleased" at the announcement of the PayPal spinoff.
On June 26, eBay announced that its board of directors had approved the spinoff. Distribution of PayPal common stock to eBay shareholders is expected to occur on July 17.
eBay has climbed 7.3% year-to-date.
Carl Icahn sold his shares of Family Dollar (FDO) way back in September, but not every big investor has been so quick to throw in the towel. Nelson Peltz, whose stake dates back to 2010, remains a shareholder, as does Soros. However, both sold some of their Family Dollar shares in the first three months of the year.
Peltz reduced his stake dramatically to around 4,000 shares as of the end of the first quarter from 8.4 million the period before. Soros downsized his holdings to 127,000 shares from 190,000.
HCA Holdings (HCA) - Get Free Report formed part of Larry Robbins' early bet on Obamacare, and the investment has paid off. The stock has climbed more than 150% since the Glenview Capital manager first invested in early 2011. Robbins has been downsizing his investment in recent quarters. In early 2014, he held as many as 12.8 million shares. As of March 31 of this year, he holds 5.2 million.
Tepper reduced his HCA Holdings shares as well during the first quarter of 2015 to 4.9 million from 5 million, and Halvorsen decreased his position to 1 million shares from 3.9 million.
In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling last week to reaffirm the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, analysts have looked favorably upon HCA Holdings. Wells Fargo analysts upgraded their rating on the company to outperform from market perform. Analysts at Oppenheimerincreased their price target on the stock to $102 from $87.
HCA has had a strong year already, its price climbing 23.6% year-to-date.
Buffett, Steve Mandel and Chase Coleman all reduced their stakes in credit card company MasterCard (MA) - Get Free Report during the first quarter of 2015. As of March 31, Buffett owned 5.3 million shares, Mandel 13 million shares, and Coleman 7.1 million shares. As of Dec. 31, the three had reported 5.4 million, 20 million and 7.2 million shares, respectively.
Not every big name in investing, however, has been selling MasterCard lately. Halvorsen, who like Mandel and Coleman is considered to be one of Julian Robertson's "tiger cubs," bought more MasterCard at the start of the year. He increased his stake from 4.3 million shares at the end of the fourth quarter of 2014 to 8.3 million shares at the end of the first quarter of 2015.
MasterCard has had a solid performance in 2015, and its price has climbed 8.5% year-to-date.
Buffett's National-Oilwell Varco (NOV) - Get Free Report stake dates back to 2012. He built his position to as high as 8.9 million shares, but during the second quarter of 2014, he gradually began to sell. In the first quarter of 2015, he reduced his holdings even further and now holds under two million shares.
Ray Dalio, head of Bridgewater Associates, reduced his stake to just 14,000 share as of the end of the first quarter of the year. Larry Robbins left his position untouched at 2.6 million shares, though it is worth noting he reduced his Noation-Oilwell Varco stake in both the third and fourth quarters of 2014.
National-Oilwell Varco has underperformed on the market in 2015, its share price declining 26.3% year-to-date through market close Tuesday. Credit Suisserecently lowered its earnings estimates for National-Oilwell Varco to $2.93 from $3.10 for 2015 and to $2.43 from $2.89 for 2016.
Realogy Holdings undefined has climbed 5% year-to-date through market close Tuesday. And investment pros Leon Cooperman, Larry Robbins and John Paulson are among those enjoying the stock's climb -- though not as much as they could have.
All three reduced their holdings in the real estate and relocation services provider in the first quarter of the year, albeit slightly. Cooperman now owns 1.5 million Realogy shares, Robbins 5.9 million and Paulson 7.1 million.
Analysts at Stephens assumed coverage of Realogy Holdings in June and set an equal weight rating on the stock as well as a $50 price target. Barclays analysts reiterated their overweight rating on the stock in May and increased their price target to $52 from $50.
Airline stocks soared in 2014, including United Continental (UAL) - Get Free Report, the share price of which surged about 80%. A number of big-name investors made impressive returns on the rally, and in 2015, some have been selling.
UAL has declined 20.8% year-to-date.
Coleman's Tiger Global reduced its stake in the company to 16 million shares in the first quarter of the year from 17.3 million. Mandel's Lone Pine Capital scaled back its position to 10.9 million shares from 13.9 million. Soros, also a VIPShop investor, left his 3.8 million share stake untouched.
VIPShop has taken heat in recent weeks in the wake of allegations that it has manipulated financial data. One firm, J Capital Research, has gone as far as to put its price target on the VIPShop stock at zero. VIPShop has denied the allegations.
The company's share price was up 13.9% year-to-date through market close Tuesday, though it has declined 10.9% over the past month.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.