At the end of February we announced the arrival of the first US recession since 2009 and we predicted that the market will decline by at least 20% in (see why hell is coming). We reversed our stance on March 25th after seeing unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus unleashed by the Fed and the Congress. This is the perfect market for stock pickers, now that the stocks are fully valued again. In these volatile markets we scrutinize hedge fund filings to get a reading on which direction each stock might be going. In this article, we will take a closer look at hedge fund sentiment towards Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX) at the end of the second quarter and determine whether the smart money was really smart about this stock.
Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX) was in 21 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of June. The all time high for this statistics is 31. HRTX investors should be aware of an increase in hedge fund sentiment recently. There were 19 hedge funds in our database with HRTX positions at the end of the first quarter. Our calculations also showed that HRTX isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q2 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.
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 S&P 500 ETFs by more than 56 percentage points since March 2017 (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.
Felix Baker of Baker Bros. Advisors
At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, Federal Reserve has been creating trillions of dollars electronically to keep the interest rates near zero. We believe this will lead to inflation and boost precious metals prices. So, we are checking out this lithium company which could also benefit from the electric car adoption. We go through lists like the 10 most profitable companies in the world to pick the best large-cap stocks to buy. 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 website to get excerpts of these letters in your inbox. Now let's view the new hedge fund action regarding Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX).
What have hedge funds been doing with Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX)?
At the end of June, a total of 21 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 11% from the first quarter of 2020. By comparison, 18 hedge funds held shares or bullish call options in HRTX a year ago. So, let's examine which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.
Among these funds, Baker Bros. Advisors held the most valuable stake in Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX), which was worth $88.5 million at the end of the third quarter. On the second spot was Tang Capital Management which amassed $42.6 million worth of shares. Partner Fund Management, D E Shaw, and Highland Capital Management 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 Tang Capital Management allocated the biggest weight to Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX), around 4.14% of its 13F portfolio. Highland Capital Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 2.39 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to HRTX.
Now, key money managers were breaking ground themselves. Kensico Capital, managed by Michael Lowenstein, assembled the most outsized position in Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX). Kensico Capital had $8.3 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Brandon Haley's Holocene Advisors also initiated a $5.9 million position during the quarter. The other funds with new positions in the stock are Noam Gottesman's GLG Partners, Paul Tudor Jones's Tudor Investment Corp, and Michael Gelband's ExodusPoint Capital.
Let's check out hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX). These stocks are Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE:RGR), Air Transport Services Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ATSG), DRDGOLD Ltd. (NYSE:DRD), Ameresco Inc (NYSE:AMRC), Theravance Biopharma Inc (NASDAQ:TBPH), Tri Continental Corporation (NYSE:TY), and BancFirst Corporation (NASDAQ:BANF). This group of stocks' market valuations are similar to HRTX's market valuation.
[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position RGR,27,219976,13 ATSG,21,128770,-1 DRD,2,27095,0 AMRC,13,73514,2 TBPH,18,352222,4 TY,3,1424,0 BANF,13,34034,1 Average,13.9,119576,2.7 [/table]
View table here if you experience formatting issues.
As you can see these stocks had an average of 13.9 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $120 million. That figure was $251 million in HRTX's case. Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE:RGR) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand DRDGOLD Ltd. (NYSE:DRD) is the least popular one with only 2 bullish hedge fund positions. Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX) is not the most popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still above average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for HRTX is 65.3. 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. 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 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 24.8% in 2020 through the end of September and beat the market by 19.3 percentage points. Unfortunately HRTX wasn't nearly as popular as these 10 stocks and hedge funds that were betting on HRTX were disappointed as the stock returned 0.7% in Q3 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 many of these stocks already outperformed the market so far this year.
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Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider Monkey.