Timothy Barakett's Atticus Capital Files 13G on Sotheby's (BID) ~ market folly

Monday, June 22, 2009

Timothy Barakett's Atticus Capital Files 13G on Sotheby's (BID)

Timothy Barakett's hedge fund Atticus Capital has filed a 13G on Sotheby's (BID) disclosing a 5.4% ownership stake in the company. The filing was made due to activity on June 11th, 2009 and they now own 3,584,110 shares. This is a brand new position for Atticus, as they previously did not hold it when we examined their portfolio in its entirety.

It definitely looks as if Atticus is starting to move back into equity positions and put money to work. We recently also covered their 13G filing on Transatlantic Holdings (TRH). On the surface, these type of filings just represent portfolio holdings. But, below the surface, it could very well mean much more for Atticus. We say this because Atticus' portfolio over the last 3 quarters has been all over the place. They had a lot of assets tied up in stocks, then they moved the bulk of their portfolio to cash, and then they moved a chunk of money into mainly options positions. Then, this past quarter, we noticed that they only held 5 long positions.

Whether it was raising cash levels due to a cautious stance on the market or possibly continued worries regarding investor redemptions after their poor performance in 2008, Atticus has definitely been trying to steady their ship. Either way, its pure speculation on our part. All we know is that they moved a lot of assets out of the markets. But, 13G filings like these indicate to us that they are starting to put money to work again in the markets, which is a good sign for them. After all, last year Atticus was ranked 2nd on the top 10 asset losers list. For more background on Atticus and a look at their portfolio, head over to our Atticus article here.

Taken from Google Finance,

Sotheby's is "an auctioneer of fine art, antiques and decorative art, jewelry and collectibles. The Company’s operations are organized into three business segments: Auction, Finance and Dealer. In addition to auctioneering, the Company’s Auction segment is engaged in a number of related activities, including the brokering of private purchases and sales of fine art, jewelry and collectibles. The Company also operates as a dealer in works of art through its Dealer segment, conducts art-related financing activities through its Finance segment and is engaged, to a lesser extent, in licensing activities."

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