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Soros buys big US banks, Amazon in Q1'18


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Soros buys big US banks, Amazon in Q1'18

In the first quarter of 2018, George Soros' family office, Soros Fund Management LLC, loaded up on financial institution stocks, including the largest U.S. banks.

According to the most recent Form 13F, Soros initiated stakes in three of the Big Four banking institutions: JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc. Those positions were worth $79.1 million, $59.4 million and $47.5 million, respectively, at March 31. The Bank of America Corp. position initiated in the fourth quarter of 2017 increased by more than 800% and was valued at $72.7 million at March 31.

Soros deepened his U.S. bank coverage to superregionals and trust-focused institutions. Notable initiations were U.S. Bancorp at $24.5 million and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. at $22.1 million.

Additionally, Soros added several insurance underwriters and broker/dealers to the portfolio. Entries included XL Group Ltd. at $39.1 million, Validus Holdings Ltd. at $38.0 million and Morgan Stanley at $26.9 million.

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Outside the financial institution sector, Soros substantially upped his exposure to "FANG" stocks. Inc. was a new first-quarter common stock position, valued at $64.0 million at March 31. Soros also added a 7,000-share call position in Amazon. He more than tripled his holding in Netflix Inc. to $65.0 million and increased his position in Alphabet Inc. by 452%, to $26.3 million.

Among all the disclosed positions in Soros' 13F filings, the largest exit was Inc., which had been $158.0 million at Dec. 31, 2017. The online retailer, which was Soros' largest fourth-quarter initiation, terminated a proposed equity offering in April. Halliburton Co. was another large exit. Soros sold off the common share stake, valued at $31.4 million at the end of 2017, and no longer reported a call position in the oil & gas company, which had an implied value of $48.9 million at Dec. 31, 2017.

Soros also made many changes to his exchange-traded fund holdings. He added both puts and calls in SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) and PowerShares QQQ (QQQ), with a chunkier weighting for the puts. He cut his exposure to the common shares of Alerian MLP (AMLP) by 41.9% while purchasing a put position with an implied value of $18.7 million. The largest ETF exit was puts in iShares Russell 2000 (IWM), which had $83.8 million in implied value at year-end 2017.

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Company filings including the 13F can be found through the filings archive tab on a company's briefing book page.