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Big Investor Halves Stake in AMC Stock and Trims Apple. It Bought PayPal and Pfizer.

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An AMC theater

Dreamstime

A large European asset manager slashed its investment in the volatile shares of a movie-theater chain, and made other changes in its U.S.-traded stock portfolio.

DNB Asset Management more than halved its position in


AMC Entertainment Holding

(ticker: AMC), trimmed a stake in iPhone maker


Apple

(AAPL), and materially raised investments in payments firm


PayPal

Holdings (PYPL) and Covid-19 vaccine maker


Pfizer

(PFE).

The unit of Norway’s largest financial-services firm DNB disclosed the first-quarter trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

DNB, which manages about $98 billion in assets, declined to comment.The asset manager sold 91,259 AMC shares to end the first quarter with 80,805 shares. AMC stock slid 9.4% in the first quarter, compared with a 5% drop in the

S&P 500 index. So far in the second quarter, shares are down 27% compared with a 3% slip in the index.

AMC stock surged near the end of March; since then, it and other so-called meme stocks—shares that investors had touted on social media and investing platforms—have tumbled. AMC may have confused investors by buying a $28 million stake in a gold-mining company in mid-March.

DNB sold 431,078 Apple shares to end March with 4.1 million shares. The stock slipped 1.6% in the first quarter, and has dropped 5.3% since.

Apple grew market share for its Macintosh computers in the first quarter, a period when overall PC shipments slipped. An analyst believes a potential hardware-subscription program could push the stock higher. When Apple reports its latest quarter on April 28, the company could increase a stock-buyback program and lift the dividend.

Stock repurchases at PayPal could soar this year since the shares have tumbled in price, and the company’s buybacks are automated. PayPal stock fell 39% in the first quarter, and is down 11.5% so far in the second.

PayPal’s fourth-quarter earnings, reported in February, and guidance disappointed. Shares dropped 25%, its worst one-day performance until that point. In another setback for PayPal, Chief Financial Officer John Rainey said in April that he is leaving for the CFO post at


Walmart

(WMT).

DNB bought 1.1 million PayPal shares in the first quarter to raise its investment to 1.3 million shares.

The asset manager also bought 817,416 Pfizer shares to end March with 3 million. Pfizer stock fell 12% in the first quarter, and is up 2.6% so far in the second.

Pfizer provided disappointing guidance in February, when the company reported fourth-quarter earnings. Earlier this month, Pfizer announced a small but significant acquisition. Last week, Pfizer named a new chief financial officer, and the appointment may hint at how the company plans to spend its Covid-19 vaccine windfall.

Inside Scoop is a regular Barron’s feature covering stock transactions by corporate executives and board members—so-called insiders—as well as large shareholders, politicians, and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock trades with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory groups.

Write to Ed Lin at edward.lin@barrons.com and follow @BarronsEdLin.

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