Hedge funds lose nearly $6 billion on Facebook, their favorite holding

Hedge Fund

Hedge funds lost more than $5 billion Thursday as Facebook shares tracked for their worst trading day in its history as a public company.

Facebook was the most-loved holding of hedge funds before the stock's epic plunge on Thursday, resulting in a massive multi-billion dollar loss for the so-called smart money on Wall Street.

Of 848 hedge funds tracked by Goldman Sachs, 97 had Facebook as a top 10 holding, according to the firm's May "Hedge Fund Trend Monitor" report. The note, tracking $1.6 trillion in hedge fund long positions, used the latest available filings for the first quarter.

The report ranked Facebook as the number one most held stock in the top 10 positions among those hedge funds, followed by Amazon at 74 funds.

The cumulative hedge fund stake comprised 5 percent of Facebook's equity shares outstanding, according to the report. As the shares dropped 19 percent Thursday more than $119 billion in market cap vanished. Five percent of the stock value drop is a nearly $6 billion loss in total for the hedge fund managers.

The historic plunge in the "FANG" stock comes after company executives reported Wednesday that Facebook missed both revenue and global daily active user expectations after struggling to cope with data leaks and fake news scandals.

On a call with analysts, Facebook said it expects its revenue growth rates to be lower than the year prior in the second half of this year.

Facebook investors have been plagued by a string of data privacy concerns and policy shifts since the Menlo Park, California-based company revealed earlier this year that data from as many as 87 million of its users may have been wrongly shared with British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica; the analytics company that aided President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

The resulting scandal sparked concern about Facebook's broader oversight of its platform, an FTC probe into whether the company breached a 2012 settlement under which it's required to give the social network's users notice and obtain consent before sharing their information as well as two appearances by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill in April.

Prior to the the dramatic reset, Facebook's stock proved to a reliable option for traders looking for exposure to a burgeoning technology industry and steady advertising revenue projections. Its stock rallied 53 percent in 2017, easily besting the S&P 500's 19.4 percent gain over the year.

The now-embattled stock is unchanged in 2018 versus a 6.2 percent gain for the S&P 500.

To be sure, hedge funds may have sold down their position in Facebook in the months after the company's Cambridge Analytica data scandal in March. But it is likely it was still a top holding going into the earnings report as the shares hit an all-time high Wednesday.

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