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Did Hedge Funds Drop The Ball On MorphoSys AG (MOR) ?

Reymerlyn Martin

Many investors, including Paul Tudor Jones or Stan Druckenmiller, have been saying before the Q4 market crash that the stock market is overvalued due to a low interest rate environment that leads to companies swapping their equity for debt and focusing mostly on short-term performance such as beating the quarterly earnings estimates. In the first half of 2019, most investors recovered all of their Q4 losses as sentiment shifted and optimism dominated the US China trade negotiations. Nevertheless, many of the stocks that delivered strong returns in the first half still sport strong fundamentals and their gains were more related to the general market sentiment rather than their individual performance and hedge funds kept their bullish stance. In this article we will find out how hedge fund sentiment to MorphoSys AG (NASDAQ:MOR) changed recently.

MorphoSys AG (NASDAQ:MOR) has seen a decrease in hedge fund sentiment in recent months. MOR was in 6 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of the second quarter of 2019. There were 7 hedge funds in our database with MOR positions at the end of the previous quarter. Our calculations also showed that MOR isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (view the video below). Video: Click the image to watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

5 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds

Hedge funds' reputation as shrewd investors has been tarnished in the last decade as their hedged returns couldn't keep up with the unhedged returns of the market indices. Our research has shown that hedge funds' small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of outperformance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the market by 40 percentage points since May 2014 through May 30, 2019 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that underperformed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of underperformance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.

James Flynn Deerfield Management

Unlike former hedge manager, Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, who is convinced Dow will soar past 40000, our long-short investment strategy doesn't rely on bull markets to deliver double digit returns. We only rely on hedge fund buy/sell signals. Let's take a look at the new hedge fund action encompassing MorphoSys AG (NASDAQ:MOR).

How have hedgies been trading MorphoSys AG (NASDAQ:MOR)?

Heading into the third quarter of 2019, a total of 6 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey held long positions in this stock, a change of -14% from the previous quarter. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in MOR over the last 16 quarters. So, let's check out which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

MOR_oct2019

Among these funds, Redmile Group held the most valuable stake in MorphoSys AG (NASDAQ:MOR), which was worth $17.7 million at the end of the second quarter. On the second spot was Deerfield Management which amassed $14.5 million worth of shares. Moreover, Alyeska Investment Group, Millennium Management, and Sensato Capital Management were also bullish on MorphoSys AG (NASDAQ:MOR), allocating a large percentage of their portfolios to this stock.

We view hedge fund activity in the stock unfavorable, but in this case there was only a single hedge fund selling its entire position: Marshall Wace LLP. One hedge fund selling its entire position doesn't always imply a bearish intent. Theoretically a hedge fund may decide to sell a promising position in order to invest the proceeds in a more promising idea. However, we don't think this is the case in this case because none of the 750+ hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey identified MOR as a viable investment and initiated a position in the stock.

Let's also examine hedge fund activity in other stocks - not necessarily in the same industry as MorphoSys AG (NASDAQ:MOR) but similarly valued. These stocks are Brookfield Business Partners L.P. (NYSE:BBU), Investors Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISBC), TreeHouse Foods Inc. (NYSE:THS), and Five9 Inc (NASDAQ:FIVN). This group of stocks' market valuations match MOR's market valuation.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position BBU,5,12411,0 ISBC,23,569055,-1 THS,17,142178,-6 FIVN,23,478688,-2 Average,17,300583,-2.25 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 17 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $301 million. That figure was $38 million in MOR's case. Investors Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISBC) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Brookfield Business Partners L.P. (NYSE:BBU) is the least popular one with only 5 bullish hedge fund positions. MorphoSys AG (NASDAQ:MOR) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. Our calculations showed that top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 24.4% in 2019 through September 30th and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 4 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on MOR as the stock returned 13.8% during the same time frame and outperformed the market by an even larger margin.

Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider Monkey.

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