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Hedge Funds Have Never Been This Bullish On Appian Corporation (APPN)

Nina Todic

"The end to the U.S. Government shutdown, reports of progress on China-U.S. trade talks, and the Federal Reserve’s confirmation that it did not plan further interest rate hikes in 2019 allayed investor fears and drove U.S. markets substantially higher in the first quarter of the year. Global markets followed suit pretty much across the board delivering what some market participants described as a “V-shaped” recovery," This is how Evermore Global Value summarized the first quarter in its investor letter. We pay attention to what hedge funds are doing in a particular stock before considering a potential investment because it works for us. So let’s take a glance at the smart money sentiment towards one of the stocks hedge funds invest in.

Is Appian Corporation (NASDAQ:APPN) undervalued? The smart money is betting on the stock. The number of bullish hedge fund positions rose by 10 recently. Our calculations also showed that appn isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds. APPN was in 19 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of the first quarter of 2019. There were 9 hedge funds in our database with APPN holdings 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' 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.

D. E. Shaw

Let's check out the fresh hedge fund action regarding Appian Corporation (NASDAQ:APPN).

What does the smart money think about Appian Corporation (NASDAQ:APPN)?

Heading into the second quarter of 2019, a total of 19 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 111% from the fourth quarter of 2018. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in APPN over the last 15 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.

No of Hedge Funds with APPN Positions

According to Insider Monkey's hedge fund database, Colin Moran's Abdiel Capital Advisors has the largest position in Appian Corporation (NASDAQ:APPN), worth close to $256.8 million, corresponding to 20.1% of its total 13F portfolio. Sitting at the No. 2 spot is D. E. Shaw of D E Shaw, with a $28.7 million position; the fund has less than 0.1%% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Other hedge funds and institutional investors with similar optimism encompass Brian Gootzeit and Andrew Frank's StackLine Partners, Jim Simons's Renaissance Technologies and Jeffrey Hoffner's Engle Capital.

Now, key hedge funds have been driving this bullishness. Renaissance Technologies, managed by Jim Simons, initiated the biggest position in Appian Corporation (NASDAQ:APPN). Renaissance Technologies had $8.1 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Ian Simm's Impax Asset Management also initiated a $3.5 million position during the quarter. The following funds were also among the new APPN investors: Paul Marshall and Ian Wace's Marshall Wace LLP, James Thomas Berylson's Berylson Capital Partners, and Peter Muller's PDT Partners.

Let's now take a look at hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Appian Corporation (NASDAQ:APPN). We will take a look at Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (NASDAQ:SHEN), The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated (NASDAQ:CAKE), AMN Healthcare Services Inc (NYSE:AMN), and Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. (NASDAQ:BECN). This group of stocks' market caps are similar to APPN's market cap.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position SHEN,14,100597,3 CAKE,25,219156,4 AMN,11,69095,-4 BECN,18,268055,-3 Average,17,164226,0 [/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 $164 million. That figure was $332 million in APPN's case. The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated (NASDAQ:CAKE) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand AMN Healthcare Services Inc (NYSE:AMN) is the least popular one with only 11 bullish hedge fund positions. Appian Corporation (NASDAQ:APPN) is not the most popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still above average. Our calculations showed that top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 1.9% in Q2 through May 30th and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by more than 3 percentage points. Hedge funds were also right about betting on APPN as the stock returned 4.9% during the same period and outperformed the market by an even larger margin. Hedge funds were rewarded for their relative bullishness.

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

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