Want to know what billionaires are doing with their money these days? We have the numbers, and the results may surprise you.

The sell-off
S&P Capital IQ recently released its Hedge Fund Tracker, showing what stocks the 10 largest pure-play hedge funds bought and sold in the third quarter. Of the stocks the hedge funds sold completely -- meaning they cashed out their entire position -- the three largest were all household names:


Sold Out Amount (Millions)



Time Warner  (NYSE:TWX.DL)


Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA)


Source: S&P Capital IQ Hedge Fund Tracker.

Cable chaos
The third quarter -- which spans from the beginning of July to the end of September -- was full of news on the cable front, the biggest of which was the efforts of Fox to acquire rival Time Warner.

On July 16 it was announced that Rupert Murdoch and Fox made an $80 billion bid -- roughly $85 a share -- for Time Warner, an offer that Time Warner executives subsequently refused. Time Warner was reported as wanting a higher price. If it were to even consider the proposed takeover, reports said the price would have to be nearer to $100 a share, or nearly $95 billion.

Source: The Motley Fool.

But it seemed Murdoch would remain undeterred. As Reuters reported, "Murdoch and his advisors are unlikely to abandon his ambition to put Time Warner in his empire so easily, one of the people said, pointing out that he has the "disciplined determination" to get a deal done."

However, that outlook changed abruptly. Exactly 20 days after the news of the possible acquisition broke, Fox withdrew its offer entirely. As The Wall Street Journal reported when the news broke, "21st Century Fox abruptly abandoned its takeover pursuit of Time Warner, citing both Time Warner's unwillingness to 'engage with us' and a sharp drop in Fox's stock price, which made a deal 'unattractive to Fox shareholders.'"

Those three weeks were a wild ride for investors of each company:

FOXA Chart

So with the craziness that marked the cable and entertainment industry in the third quarter, it should come as no surprise that Viking Global Investors sold off its stake in Time Warner and Lone Pine Capital shelved its holdings of Fox.

iLove you not
While the unloading of Time Warner and Fox is understandable, why Viking Global Investors and Renaissance Technologies chose to completely exit their positions in Apple is a bit less clear.

In the third quarter, Apple once more posted strong results, delivering 20% growth in earnings per share, and it delivered record revenue for the quarter ending June 28.

"Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the earnings announcement. "We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can't wait to introduce."

Source: The Motley Fool.

There was also the reality in the third quarter Apple both announced and launched the much-awaited iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. The company revealed on Sept. 22 that in the first weekend alone, more than 10 million phones were sold, which exceeded expectations and caused Cook to say it was the company's "best launch ever, shattering all previous sell-through records by a large margin."

In short, the news was nothing but good for Apple, and from September 2013 to September 2014, its total return was greater than 50%.

So one simply has to wonder whether the hedge funds decided to cash in on their gains and explore other options. But considering since the end of September Apple's stock has risen by 9% versus just a 2% gain on the S&P 500, one also has to wonder whether they regret making such a move.

Patrick Morris owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.