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(Updates the original story to add background on activist investing and fund performance in the third and fourth paragraphs.)

BOSTON (

TheStreet

) -- Hedge fund firm Jana Partners, taking a page out of billionaire investor John Paulson's playbook, made a $122 million bet on gold, according to its fourth-quarter regulatory filing.

New York-based Jana Partners bought 881,844 shares of the

SPDR Gold Trust

(GLD) - Get SPDR Gold Shares Report

exchange traded fund, making it the fund's third-largest holding by value. Jana Partners joins other hedge funds that have made a bet on precious metals, including Paulson, whose Paulson & Co. hedge fund focused on gold last year after correctly betting on the housing decline in 2008. Paulson himself earned $5 billion last year as gold rose to a record.

Jana Partners was founded in April 2001 by Barry Rosenstein and takes an activist approach by targeting companies that are considering or implementing strategic changes, usually through management shuffling. Jana Partners is best known for pressure it exerted on pharmaceutical company

Charles River Laboratories

(CRL) - Get Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. Report

, which remains a holding of the hedge fund. Jana Partners is the company's largest shareholder and last year opposed Charles Rivers' bid to acquire

WuXi PharmaTech

, a Chinese company. Charles River eventually terminated the deal and instead announced a $500 million stock-repurchase plan.

Jana Partners' Master Fund underperformed the broader market last year, returning 8.4% to the

S&P 500's

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return of 15.1%, according to the firm's letter to shareholders reviewing the fourth quarter. The firm has an annualized return of 14.3% since inception, well ahead of the 2.8% annualized return of the S&P 500 over the same period.

Gold wasn't the only new position for the fund in the period ending Dec. 31. Jana Partners snagged more than 3.5 million shares of

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

, which came public again through a $20 billion initial public offering in November. GM now represents Jana Partners' largest investment by value, at $130 million.

The hedge fund also took a new position in

Visa

(V) - Get Visa Inc. Class A Report

in the fourth quarter by buying more than 1.5 million shares of the credit card network. Visa now represents the fund's No. 4 holding.

Among Jana Partners' other new positions in the quarter are

Aeropostale

(ARO)

,

Cablevision

(CVC)

,

El Paso

(EP)

,

Liberty Media

(LSTZA)

,

Lyondellbasell

(LYB) - Get LyondellBasell Industries NV Report

,

National Fuel Gas

(NFG) - Get National Fuel Gas Company Report

,

Savient Pharmaceuticals

(SVNT)

,

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Vodafone Group Plc Report

,

Williams Companies

(WMB) - Get Williams Companies, Inc. Report

, and

Zoran

(ZRAN)

.

Meanwhile, Jana Partners completely sold out of positions in

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

,

RadioShack

(RSH)

,

Hertz Global

(HTZ) - Get Hertz Global Holdings Inc Report

,

Rite Aid

(RAD) - Get Rite Aid Corporation Report

,

Sprint Nextel

(S) - Get SentinelOne, Inc. Class A Report

and

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Xerox Holdings Corporation Report

, among others.

Hedge funds that manage more than $100 million are required to disclose their equity holdings, options and convertible debt on a Form 13F filed to the

Securities and Exchange Commission

within 45 days of the end of a quarter. Funds aren't required to report short positions betting declines.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston

.

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Robert Holmes

.

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