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Hedge Funds Aren’t Crazy About Booking Holdings Inc. (BKNG) Anymore

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The latest 13F reporting period has come and gone, and Insider Monkey is again at the forefront when it comes to making use of this gold mine of data. We at Insider Monkey have plowed through 866 13F filings that hedge funds and well-known value investors are required to file by the SEC. The 13F filings show the funds' and investors' portfolio positions as of March 31st. In this article we look at what those investors think of Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG).

Is Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG) a safe stock to buy now? Prominent investors were taking a bearish view. The number of bullish hedge fund positions fell by 5 lately. Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG) was in 103 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of March. The all time high for this statistic is 113. Our calculations also showed that BKNG ranked 18th among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q1 rankings). There were 108 hedge funds in our database with BKNG holdings at the end of December.

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Daniel Sundheim D1 Capital
Daniel Sundheim D1 Capital

Daniel Sundheim of D1 Capital

At Insider Monkey we leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example, advertising technology one of the fastest growing industries right now, so we are checking out stock pitches like this under-the-radar adtech stock that can deliver 10x gains. We go through lists like the 10 best hydrogen fuel cell stocks to pick the next Tesla that will deliver a 10x return. Even though we recommend positions in only a tiny fraction of the companies we analyze, we check out as many stocks as we can. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. You can subscribe to our free daily newsletter on our homepage. Keeping this in mind let's go over the new hedge fund action encompassing Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG).

Do Hedge Funds Think BKNG Is A Good Stock To Buy Now?

At first quarter's end, a total of 103 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey held long positions in this stock, a change of -5% from one quarter earlier. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in BKNG over the last 23 quarters. So, let's see which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

Among these funds, Citadel Investment Group held the most valuable stake in Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG), which was worth $781.2 million at the end of the fourth quarter. On the second spot was Alkeon Capital Management which amassed $640.7 million worth of shares. Ako Capital, GuardCap Asset Management, and D1 Capital Partners were also very fond of the stock, becoming one of the largest hedge fund holders of the company. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Jeneq Management allocated the biggest weight to Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG), around 19.24% of its 13F portfolio. GuardCap Asset Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, setting aside 10.21 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to BKNG.

Since Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG) has faced declining sentiment from the smart money, logic holds that there is a sect of hedge funds who sold off their full holdings heading into Q2. It's worth mentioning that Andreas Halvorsen's Viking Global sold off the biggest stake of the "upper crust" of funds watched by Insider Monkey, totaling close to $419.4 million in stock. Anand Desai's fund, Darsana Capital Partners, also cut its stock, about $200.5 million worth. These transactions are important to note, as aggregate hedge fund interest fell by 5 funds heading into Q2.

Let's now take a look at hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG). We will take a look at Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD), Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO), Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZM), Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK), GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE:GSK), Vale SA (NYSE:VALE), and British American Tobacco plc (NYSE:BTI). All of these stocks' market caps resemble BKNG's market cap.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position AMD,62,3703315,-12 MO,38,1109493,1 ZM,54,5672277,-5 SYK,46,3154010,2 GSK,25,1359731,-5 VALE,31,2615665,-4 BTI,14,1034777,4 Average,38.6,2664181,-2.7 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 38.6 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $2664 million. That figure was $6810 million in BKNG's case. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand British American Tobacco plc (NYSE:BTI) is the least popular one with only 14 bullish hedge fund positions. Compared to these stocks Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG) is more popular among hedge funds. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for BKNG is 88.8. Stocks with higher number of hedge fund positions relative to other stocks as well as relative to their historical range receive a higher sentiment score. Our calculations showed that top 5 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 95.8% in 2019 and 2020, and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 40 percentage points. These stocks gained 17.2% in 2021 through June 11th and still beat the market by 3.3 percentage points. Unfortunately BKNG wasn't nearly as popular as these 5 stocks and hedge funds that were betting on BKNG were disappointed as the stock returned -1.1% since the end of the first quarter (through 6/11) and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 5 most popular stocks among hedge funds as most of these stocks already outperformed the market since 2019.

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

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