Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group recently increased its stake in CONN’S, Inc. (NASDAQ:CONN) by 1.74 million shares. As revealed in a 13G Form filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the fund now owns 1.79 million shares, representing 4.9% of the company’s outstanding stock. Over the past few days, Kevin Michael Ulrich and Anthony Davis’ Anchorage Advisors acquired 304,900 shares at an average price of $27.89 per share and then sold 622,500 shares at an average price of $25.74 per share. Following these insider transactions, the investment firm’s position in CONN’s amounts to 3.62 million shares.
CONN’S, Inc. (NASDAQ:CONN)’s share price has been soaring over the past month and has gained around 43.7% year-to-date. In 2014, the stock had plummeted 75.9%, taking a big hit during the fourth quarter due to weak earnings results. Although at the end of the year the company’s situation looked grim and investors were unloading shares, the trend was reversed thanks to the strong sales results registered in January. Total retail sales during that month gained 16.8% year over year to $93.6 million and 16.2%, to $350.5 million, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015.
The higher sales figures, which include a 4.9% increase in same-store sales during January, stem primarily from the company’s furniture and appliances division. Furthermore, the 60-plus day delinquency rate for the firm’s credit portfolio remained stable at 9.7% and was cited by numerous analysts as one of the reasons the stock has been upgraded. The encouraging data put forward by CONN’S, Inc. (NASDAQ:CONN) certainly had an effect on its share price, as investors are once again willing to take the risk of betting on the volatile stock. Christiane Leone’s Luxor Capital Group ranks as the company’s largest shareholder among institutional investors, with a position of 7.59 million shares, valued at $141.79 million, which accounted for 2.86% of its equity portfolio at the end of 2014.
Although CONN’S, Inc. (NASDAQ:CONN) seems to be turning things around, the company’s financial results are still rather weak compared to those reported last year. Hence, investors might be better off considering other specialty retailers, especially those enjoying a high level of popularity among billionaires. In the rest of this article we will take a closer look at Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:BBY) and Vipshop Holdings Ltd – ADR (NYSE:VIPS), which are two specialty retailers that had several billionaires holding long positions at the end of 2014.
A total of eight billionaires are bullish on Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:BBY), holding $319 million worth of stock in aggregate. The largest shareholder among this reduced group of institutional shareholders was Cliff Asness’ AQR Capital Management, which held 3.25 million shares valued at $126.57 million last quarter. Other billionaires betting on the stock include Phillip Gross and Robert Atchinson, Ken Griffin, and Rob Citrone, all of which own more than 1.0 million shares of the company’s outstanding stock.
The funds betting on Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:BBY) have profited from its rising share price, as the stock has gained approximately 55% over the past 52 weeks. In fact, the company not only reached its 52-week high of $40.60 per share today, but also offers shareholders an attractive 2.28% annual dividend yield. Furthermore, the company reported $1.48 earnings per share last quarter, beating analysts’ consensus earnings estimate of $1.35 per share.
Vipshop Holdings Ltd – ADR (NYSE:VIPS) was also quite popular among billionaire hedge funds, with a total of seven major institutional investors holding $829 worth of stock as of last quarter. Among the funds betting on this stock is Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management LLC, which owns 17.25 million shares, valued at $337.06 million, and representing almost 4% of its equity portfolio. Stephen Mandel’s Lone Pine Capital is also bullish regarding Vipshop Holdings Ltd – ADR (NYSE:VIPS), as it initiated a position with 13.94 million shares last quarter, which had a market value of $272.30 million. The company has been demonstrating a very solid performance and has seen its share price soar 132.07% in 2014. Year-to-date the stock has already gained more than 31%, reaching a 52-week high of $26.20 per share. Last quarter, the stock beat the consensus earnings estimate of $0.09 per share by 33.3%, reporting an EPS of $0.12 per share.