Amid an overall bull market, many stocks that smart money investors were collectively bullish on surged through the end of November. Among them, Facebook and Microsoft ranked among the top 3 picks and these stocks gained 54% and 51% respectively. Our research shows that most of the stocks that smart money likes historically generate strong risk-adjusted returns. That's why we weren't surprised when hedge funds’ top 20 large-cap stock picks generated a return of 37.4% through the end of November and outperformed the broader market benchmark by 9.9 percentage points.This is why following the smart money sentiment is a useful tool at identifying the next stock to invest in.
Gamco Investors Inc. (NYSE:GBL) shares haven't seen a lot of action during the third quarter. Overall, hedge fund sentiment was unchanged. The stock was in 10 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of September. At the end of this article we will also compare GBL to other stocks including Green Brick Partners Inc (NASDAQ:GRBK), Oasis Midstream Partners LP (NYSE:OMP), and Party City Holdco Inc (NYSE:PRTY) to get a better sense of its popularity. Video: Click the image to watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.
So, why do we pay attention to hedge fund sentiment before making any investment decisions? 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 Russell 2000 ETFs by 40 percentage points since May 2014 (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. Even if you aren't comfortable with shorting stocks, you should at least avoid initiating long positions in stocks that are in our short portfolio.
[caption id="attachment_193003" align="alignnone" width="600"] Chuck Royce of Royce & Associates[/caption]
We leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example Europe is set to become the world's largest cannabis market, so we check out this European marijuana stock pitch. One of the most bullish analysts in America just put his money where his mouth is. He says, "I'm investing more today than I did back in early 2009." So we check out his pitch. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. We also rely on the best performing hedge funds' buy/sell signals. Let's take a glance at the recent hedge fund action surrounding Gamco Investors Inc. (NYSE:GBL).
How have hedgies been trading Gamco Investors Inc. (NYSE:GBL)?
Heading into the fourth quarter of 2019, a total of 10 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 0% from the second quarter of 2019. On the other hand, there were a total of 9 hedge funds with a bullish position in GBL a year ago. So, let's review which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.
The largest stake in Gamco Investors Inc. (NYSE:GBL) was held by Royce & Associates, which reported holding $3.2 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by Horizon Asset Management with a $2.8 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included Renaissance Technologies, MFP Investors, and Winton Capital Management. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Zebra Capital Management allocated the biggest weight to Gamco Investors Inc. (NYSE:GBL), around 0.58% of its 13F portfolio. MFP Investors is also relatively very bullish on the stock, dishing out 0.15 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to GBL.
We view hedge fund activity in the stock unfavorable, but in this case there was only a single hedge fund selling its entire position: Springbok Capital. 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 only one of the 800+ hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey identified as a viable investment and initiated a position in the stock (that fund was Winton Capital Management).
Let's go over hedge fund activity in other stocks - not necessarily in the same industry as Gamco Investors Inc. (NYSE:GBL) but similarly valued. We will take a look at Green Brick Partners Inc (NASDAQ:GRBK), Oasis Midstream Partners LP (NYSE:OMP), Party City Holdco Inc (NYSE:PRTY), and First Community Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:FCBC). This group of stocks' market valuations resemble GBL's market valuation.
[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position GRBK,16,318379,1 OMP,3,7122,-2 PRTY,10,77943,0 FCBC,8,12241,5 Average,9.25,103921,1 [/table]
View table here if you experience formatting issues.
As you can see these stocks had an average of 9.25 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $104 million. That figure was $11 million in GBL's case. Green Brick Partners Inc (NASDAQ:GRBK) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Oasis Midstream Partners LP (NYSE:OMP) is the least popular one with only 3 bullish hedge fund positions. Gamco Investors Inc. (NYSE:GBL) is not the most popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still above average. This is a slightly positive signal but we'd rather spend our time researching stocks that hedge funds are piling on. Our calculations showed that top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 37.4% in 2019 through the end of November and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 9.9 percentage points. Unfortunately GBL wasn't nearly as popular as these 20 stocks and hedge funds that were betting on GBL were disappointed as the stock returned -8% during the fourth quarter (through the end of November) and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds as many of these stocks already outperformed the market so far this year.
Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider Monkey.