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Is NWBI A Good Stock To Buy Now?

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Abigail Fisher
·6 min read
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While the market driven by short-term sentiment influenced by the accomodative interest rate environment in the US, virus news and stimulus talks, many smart money investors are starting to get cautious towards the current bull run since March and hedging or reducing many of their long positions. Some fund managers are betting on Dow hitting 30,000 to generate strong returns. However, as we know, big investors usually buy stocks with strong fundamentals that can deliver gains both in bull and bear markets, which is why we believe we can profit from imitating them. In this article, we are going to take a look at the smart money sentiment surrounding Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI).

Is NWBI a good stock to buy now? Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI) has seen an increase in support from the world's most elite money managers in recent months. Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI) was in 9 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of the third quarter of 2020. The all time high for this statistics is 20. There were 8 hedge funds in our database with NWBI positions at the end of the second quarter. Our calculations also showed that NWBI isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q3 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.

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 S&P 500 ETFs by 66 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.

Fred DiSanto Ancora Advisors
Fred DiSanto Ancora Advisors

Fred DiSanto of Ancora 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 real estate prices. So, we recommended this real estate stock to our monthly premium newsletter subscribers. We go through lists like the 15 best blue chip stocks 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. Now we're going to analyze the recent hedge fund action surrounding Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI).

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

At third quarter's end, a total of 9 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 13% from the second quarter of 2020. By comparison, 20 hedge funds held shares or bullish call options in NWBI 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, Renaissance Technologies held the most valuable stake in Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI), which was worth $7.6 million at the end of the third quarter. On the second spot was Ancora Advisors which amassed $5.1 million worth of shares. Citadel Investment Group, PEAK6 Capital Management, and Two Sigma Advisors 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 Minerva Advisors allocated the biggest weight to Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI), around 0.66% of its 13F portfolio. Ancora Advisors is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 0.2 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to NWBI.

As aggregate interest increased, key hedge funds were leading the bulls' herd. Balyasny Asset Management, managed by Dmitry Balyasny, initiated the most outsized position in Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI). Balyasny Asset Management had $0.7 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Donald Sussman's Paloma Partners also initiated a $0.1 million position during the quarter.

Let's go over hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI). These stocks are FBL Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:FFG), Vista Outdoor Inc (NYSE:VSTO), Calavo Growers, Inc. (NASDAQ:CVGW), Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. (NYSE:FSM), NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB), FB Financial Corporation (NYSE:FBK), and Stewart Information Services Corp (NYSE:STC). This group of stocks' market values resemble NWBI's market value.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position FFG,11,46916,5 VSTO,28,257079,6 CVGW,11,80472,-3 FSM,13,53788,4 NBTB,8,10403,-1 FBK,9,49679,-3 STC,19,103657,4 Average,14.1,85999,1.7 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 14.1 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $86 million. That figure was $20 million in NWBI's case. Vista Outdoor Inc (NYSE:VSTO) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB) is the least popular one with only 8 bullish hedge fund positions. Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for NWBI is 22. 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 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 41.3% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10 percentage points. These stocks gained 32.9% in 2020 through December 8th and still beat the market by 16.2 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on NWBI as the stock returned 38.6% since the end of the third quarter (through 12/8) and outperformed the market by an even larger margin.

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

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