Coronavirus: Netflix, Peloton, Amazon, Zoom most sought-after stocks in first quarter

Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery. (File photo: Reuters)

As the world began to go into lockdown, the biggest money managers loaded up on quarantine stocks.

Netflix Inc., Peloton Interactive Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. were some of the most sought-after names in the first quarter, according to regulatory filings. George Soros, Stan Druckenmiller and Philippe Laffont were among the managers piling into such stocks.

The filings offer a glimpse into the maneuvering by major hedge fund managers and other investors during the coronavirus-fueled market rout that brought the global economy to a standstill. The S&P 500 Index fell 20 percent in the first three months of 2020, its biggest drop in more than a decade.

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So far this year, each of the four stocks has soared double-digits as people hunkered down and reverted to television binging, at-home workouts, online shopping and video chatting. Notably, Zoom surged 157 percent through May 15. However, exercise company Peloton saw its big rally after a first-quarter decline, and is now up about 70 percent for the year.

Here are the key takeaways from hedge funds’ first-quarter 13F filings:

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. trimmed two of its bank holdings, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., during the period as the pandemic started to roil financial markets.

Larry Robbins’s Glenview Capital Management and Zeke Capital Advisors LLC, a money manager for ultra-wealthy families, were among those that drastically cut equity positions. Glenview slashed its stock market exposure during the first quarter, disclosing it held US-traded equities with a stock market value of $3.7 billion at March 31, down from $11.4 billion at year end.

Activist investor Bill Ackman confirmed he had built a $25 million stake in private equity powerhouse Blackstone Group Inc. during the quarter. Meanwhile, Tiger Global Management trimmed its stake in alternative asset manager Apollo Global Management Inc. for the first time in five quarters.

Managers were mixed on Facebook Inc. in the quarter. D1 Capital piled into the social-media giant, boosting its stake by 70 percent, and Soroban Capital Partners and Baupost Group started new positions. However, Coatue Management and Viking Global Investors both slashed their holdings. Facebook slumped 19 percent in the first quarter as its advertising business took a hit in the crisis.

Aaron Cowen made a contrarian bet of sorts during the first quarter, as his Suvretta Capital Management acquired shares in several consumer-focused chains. The list includes a $55 million bet on TJX Cos., parent to TJ Maxx discount stores.

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