By Brett Philbin
Billionaire investor George Soros's Soros Fund Management LLC reported new stakes in retail heavyweight Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Facebook Inc. (FB), while eliminating positions in big banks J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Citigroup Inc. (C) in the second quarter.
The famed investor, who once dubbed gold "the ultimate asset bubble," also boosted his holdings in the precious metal, raising his stake in the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), a gold-backed exchanged-traded fund, to 884,400 shares, from 319,550 shares in the prior period, according to a regulatory filing. The position was valued at $137.3 million at June 30.
Wal-Mart, which reports second-quarter results on Thursday, was the third-largest position in the fund's portfolio. Mr. Soros's new stake in the retailer was 4.8 million shares, worth $337 million.
Mr. Soros also scooped up shares of social network company Facebook, adding 341,000 shares valued at $10.6 million at the end of the second quarter. Since that date, the stock has fallen 34% amid concerns over the company's revenue growth.
During the period, Mr. Soros appeared to follow the path of many bank investors, who have avoided financials amid concerns about tough trading conditions, a weak economy, increased regulatory scrutiny and the fallout over J.P. Morgan's surprise trading blunder.
Prior to reporting no positions in those stocks on Tuesday, Mr. Soros had owned 606,400 shares of J.P. Morgan--plus a 95,000 share call option--120,00 shares of Goldman Sachs, 537,000 shares of Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and 420,000 shares of Citigroup at the end of the first quarter.
Overall, the value of Mr. Soros's holdings rose slightly to $6.9 billion, from $6.8 billion in the first quarter. Soros reported a 16% decrease in the number of total holdings to 168 positions, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Among other purchases, Mr. Soros boosted his stake in U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co. (GE), increasing his position to 8.6 million shares from 1.3 million in the first quarter. The GE stake is valued at $179 million.
Additionally, Mr. Soros disclosed a new debt stake in WebMD Health Corp. (WBMD), reporting principal ownership of debt securities worth $262 million.
Investors who manage more than $100 million are required to disclose most securities holdings within a month and a half of the end of a quarter. The filings give the public a relatively fresh look at the portfolios of well-known investors. The second-quarter deadline was Tuesday.
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