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Hedge Funds Are Betting On First Commonwealth Financial (FCF)

Reymerlyn Martin

At Insider Monkey we track the activity of some of the best-performing hedge funds like Appaloosa Management, Baupost, and Third Point because we determined that some of the stocks that they are collectively bullish on can help us generate returns above the broader indices. Out of thousands of stocks that hedge funds invest in, small-caps can provide the best returns over the long term due to the fact that these companies are less efficiently priced and are usually under the radars of mass-media, analysts and dumb money. This is why we follow the smart money moves in the small-cap space.

Is First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF) a great investment now? Hedge funds are becoming more confident. The number of long hedge fund positions rose by 5 lately. Our calculations also showed that FCF isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds. FCF was in 11 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of September. There were 6 hedge funds in our database with FCF positions at the end of the previous quarter.

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' large-cap stock picks indeed failed to beat the market between 1999 and 2016. However, we were able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the market by 18 percentage points since May 2014 through December 3, 2018 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that'll significantly underperform the market. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 and they lost 24% through December 3, 2018. That's why we believe hedge fund sentiment is an extremely useful indicator that investors should pay attention to.

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Let's take a glance at the latest hedge fund action surrounding First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF).

What does the smart money think about First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF)?

At Q3's end, a total of 11 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 83% from the previous quarter. On the other hand, there were a total of 8 hedge funds with a bullish position in FCF at the beginning of this year. So, let's review which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

FCF_dec2018

The largest stake in First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF) was held by Renaissance Technologies, which reported holding $25.3 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by AQR Capital Management with a $3.5 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included Citadel Investment Group, PDT Partners, and Millennium Management.

Now, key money managers were breaking ground themselves. Millennium Management, managed by Israel Englander, created the biggest position in First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF). Millennium Management had $0.9 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Roger Ibbotson's Zebra Capital Management also made a $0.4 million investment in the stock during the quarter. The following funds were also among the new FCF investors: Dmitry Balyasny's Balyasny Asset Management, John Overdeck and David Siegel's Two Sigma Advisors, and Matthew Tewksbury's Stevens Capital Management.

Let's also examine hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF). We will take a look at Four Corners Property Trust, Inc. (NYSE:FCPT), Heartland Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:HTLD), Imperva Inc (NYSE:IMPV), and LivePerson, Inc. (NASDAQ:LPSN). This group of stocks' market values are similar to FCF's market value.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position FCPT,13,137588,-1 HTLD,11,19849,-1 IMPV,29,479072,-1 LPSN,12,128677,-5 Average,16.25,191297,-2 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 16.25 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $191 million. That figure was $36 million in FCF's case. Imperva Inc (NYSE:IMPV) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Heartland Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:HTLD) is the least popular one with only 11 bullish hedge fund positions. Compared to these stocks First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF) is even less popular than HTLD. Considering that hedge funds aren't fond of this stock in relation to other companies analyzed in this article, it may be a good idea to analyze it in detail and understand why the smart money isn't behind this stock. This isn't necessarily bad news. Although it is possible that hedge funds may think the stock is overpriced and view the stock as a short candidate, they may not be very familiar with the bullish thesis. In either case more research is warranted.

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

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