NEW YORK, Feb 17 (Reuters) - David Tepper's Appaloosa Management saw a sharp decrease in the value of its bullish equity bets in the fourth quarter, months after the hedge fund manager warned against being too optimistic about the U.S. stock market, a regulatory filing showed.
The market value of Appaloosa's long positions - bets that selected stocks will rise in price - fell by about 40 percent to $4.05 billion in the fourth quarter from $6.8 billion in the prior quarter, according to filing on Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Much of the decrease came because Appaloosa trimmed most of its positions and sold entire stakes in 15 companies. The firm sold 185,000 shares of General Motors Co, its most valuable stake at $552 million, and scrapped positions in Apple , Citigroup, Halliburton, Alibaba , and Facebook, among others.
While Tepper, who sold about 1.2 million Apple shares, missed out on a 16 percent rally in Apple shares and a 13 percent gain in Halliburton shares so far this year, his eliminations of stakes in Citigroup, Alibaba and Facebook proved prescient. All of those companies have declined in 2015.
Alibaba, which has stumbled nearly 16 percent this year, accounted for 725,000 shares in Apaloosa's holdings. Tepper had also owned 8.3 million Citigroup shares, 5 million Halliburton shares and 3.6 million Facebook shares.
Tepper's bearish tilt came after the billionaire investor told a packed ballroom last May: "I'm not saying go short, just don't be too friggin' long." Tepper had said he did not think U.S. economic growth was as strong as it should be and that central banks were being complacent.
While the benchmark U.S. S&P 500 stock index has rallied over 11 percent since Tepper's call, its acceleration has slowed in recent months. The index has risen just 1.9 percent so far this year, compared with last year's 11.4 percent gain.
Other investors have warned of dramatic market swings ahead.
"We are in more volatile times," said David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer of investment firm Cumberland Advisors in Sarasota, Florida, on Tuesday. While Kotok said the trend was for stock markets to continue rising, volatility will increase.
Tepper's only new position in the fourth quarter was a 2.9 million-share stake in American Realty Capital Properties Inc , Friday's filing showed.
An Appaloosa spokesman did not respond to an email request for comment. (Additional reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Jonathan Oatis)