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Hedge Funds Are Warming Up To Banner Corporation (BANR)

Debasis Saha

Insider Monkey has processed numerous 13F filings of hedge funds and successful value investors to create an extensive database of hedge fund holdings. The 13F filings show the hedge funds' and successful investors' positions as of the end of the first quarter. You can find articles about an individual hedge fund's trades on numerous financial news websites. However, in this article we will take a look at their collective moves over the last 4.5 years and analyze what the smart money thinks of Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR) based on that data.

Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR) has experienced an increase in support from the world's most elite money managers recently. BANR was in 15 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of March. There were 12 hedge funds in our database with BANR positions at the end of the previous quarter. Our calculations also showed that BANR isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q1 rankings and see the video for a quick look at the top 5 stocks). Video: Watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

In the financial world there are a large number of tools investors have at their disposal to grade stocks. A pair of the most under-the-radar tools are hedge fund and insider trading indicators. We have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the best fund managers can outperform the broader indices by a solid amount. Insider Monkey's monthly stock picks returned 101% since March 2017 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by more than 58 percentage points. Our short strategy outperformed the S&P 500 short ETFs by 20 percentage points annually (see the details here). That's why we believe hedge fund sentiment is a useful indicator that investors should pay attention to.

[caption id="attachment_27480" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Israel Englander of Millennium Management[/caption]

Izzy Englander of MILLENNIUM MANAGEMENT

At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, blockchain technology's influence will go beyond online payments. So, we are checking out this futurist's moonshot opportunities in tech stocks. We interview hedge fund managers and ask them about their best ideas. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. For example we are checking out stocks recommended/scorned by legendary Bill Miller. Our best call in 2020 was shorting the market when the S&P 500 was trading at 3150 in February after realizing the coronavirus pandemic’s significance before most investors. Keeping this in mind let's check out the fresh hedge fund action surrounding Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR).

What have hedge funds been doing with Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR)?

At Q1's end, a total of 15 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 25% from one quarter earlier. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in BANR over the last 18 quarters. With hedgies' capital changing hands, there exists a few key hedge fund managers who were boosting their stakes considerably (or already accumulated large positions).

Is BANR A Good Stock To Buy?

The largest stake in Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR) was held by Citadel Investment Group, which reported holding $24 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by Forest Hill Capital with a $7.7 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included Millennium Management, GLG Partners, and D E Shaw. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Forest Hill Capital allocated the biggest weight to Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR), around 4.12% of its 13F portfolio. EJF Capital is also relatively very bullish on the stock, earmarking 0.36 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to BANR.

As aggregate interest increased, specific money managers were leading the bulls' herd. EJF Capital, managed by Emanuel J. Friedman, created the most valuable position in Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR). EJF Capital had $1.7 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke and John Campbell's Arrowstreet Capital also initiated a $0.6 million position during the quarter. The other funds with brand new BANR positions are Mika Toikka's AlphaCrest Capital Management, Dmitry Balyasny's Balyasny Asset Management, and Greg Eisner's Engineers Gate Manager.

Let's also examine hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR). We will take a look at Harmony Gold Mining Co. (NYSE:HMY), National Research Corporation (NASDAQ:NRC), Uniti Group Inc. (NASDAQ:UNIT), and Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd (NYSE:OR). All of these stocks' market caps match BANR's market cap.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position HMY,9,39467,-3 NRC,8,41203,-1 UNIT,13,73283,-2 OR,13,101894,0 Average,10.75,63962,-1.5 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 10.75 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $64 million. That figure was $54 million in BANR's case. Uniti Group Inc. (NASDAQ:UNIT) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand National Research Corporation (NASDAQ:NRC) is the least popular one with only 8 bullish hedge fund positions. Compared to these stocks Banner Corporation (NASDAQ:BANR) is more popular among hedge funds. Our calculations showed that top 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 41.4% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10.1 percentage points. These stocks gained 13.3% in 2020 through June 25th and still beat the market by 16.8 percentage points. Unfortunately BANR wasn't nearly as popular as these 10 stocks and hedge funds that were betting on BANR were disappointed as the stock returned 10.3% during the second quarter (through June 25th) and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds as most of these stocks already outperformed the market in 2020.

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

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