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Jana Partners takes stake in Juniper, exits Agrium

A woman walks past a banner with the logo of Juniper Networks Inc. covering the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, October 29, 2009. REU
A woman walks past a banner with the logo of Juniper Networks Inc. covering the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, October 29, 2009. REU

By Luciana Lopez

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jana Partners LLC built a major stake in Juniper Networks in the fourth quarter, according to a regulatory filing on Friday, making it another shareholder activist to invest in the networking-gear company and urge cost cutting.

The bet on Juniper Networks, which by late afternoon was at $27.38, down 0.35 percent, has translated into hefty profits if Jana still holds the stake: Juniper stock has jumped 21 percent so far this year.

Jana's 13.4 million-share stake in Juniper means the activist investor owns about 2.65 percent of the company.

The hedge fund has been talking to Juniper management to try to unlock "shareholder value" and has cited management compensation as an area of reform, according a letter to investors reported on by Reuters.

"We are continuing a constructive dialogue with our shareholders and we look forward to presenting our integrated operating plan soon," Juniper spokeswoman Cindy Ta said in an email to Reuters on Friday.

Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corp, which also owns a significant stake in Juniper, has urged the company to buy back shares, start paying a dividend and consider slimming down.

In contrast to the Juniper purchase, Jana cut its stake in Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc.

Agrium last year fended off a bid by Jana to break up the company, including a bitter proxy battle.

"I think the proxy contest spoke for itself," Agrium spokesman Richard Downey said on Friday.

Agrium shares were nearly unchanged, trading up 0.08 percent in New York at $88.29 in the afternoon.

Jana Partners also exited from J.C. Penney Co Inc. The troubled retailer has struggled as a now-abandoned attempt to go upmarket by ditching coupons and opening in-store boutiques failed to catch on.

Jana Partners and J.C. Penney both declined to comment on the regulatory filing.

The 13F filings provide a window onto the strategies of some of the world's biggest investors.

The view, however, is limited. The disclosures are not just backward looking toward the previous quarter; they also don't disclose short positions.

There's also little to illuminate positions on bonds and other securities that do not trade on exchanges.

In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission also sometimes allows managers not to disclose sensitive positions.

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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