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Whiting Petroleum Corporation (WLL) vs. Top 20 Hedge Fund Stocks in 2019

Reymerlyn Martin

2018's fourth quarter was a rough one for investors and many hedge funds, which were naturally unable to overcome the big dip in the broad market, as the S&P 500 fell by about 4.8% during 2018 and average hedge fund losing about 1%. The Russell 2000, composed of smaller companies, performed even worse, trailing the S&P by more than 6 percentage points, as investors fled less-known quantities for safe havens. Luckily hedge funds were shifting their holdings into large-cap stocks. The 20 most popular hedge fund stocks actually generated an average return of 41.3% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF by more than 10 percentage points. In this article we will study how hedge fund sentiment towards Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL) changed during the third quarter and how the stock performed in comparison to hedge fund consensus stocks.

Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL) investors should pay attention to an increase in activity from the world's largest hedge funds in recent months. WLL was in 25 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of the third quarter of 2019. There were 23 hedge funds in our database with WLL positions at the end of the previous quarter. Our calculations also showed that WLL isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q3 rankings and see the video at the end of this article for Q2 rankings).

Today there are tons of methods stock traders use to grade publicly traded companies. A couple of the most useful methods are hedge fund and insider trading sentiment. Our researchers have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the top money managers can trounce the S&P 500 by a solid margin (see the details here).

[caption id="attachment_221556" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Richard Driehaus of Driehaus Capital[/caption]

We leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example Europe is set to become the world's largest cannabis market, so we check out this European marijuana stock pitch. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. This December, we recommended Adams Energy as a one-way bet based on an under-the-radar fund manager's investor letter and the stock is still extremely cheap despite already gaining 20 percent. With all of this in mind let's check out the new hedge fund action encompassing Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL).

Hedge fund activity in Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL)

At Q3's end, a total of 25 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 9% from the second quarter of 2019. Below, you can check out the change in hedge fund sentiment towards WLL over the last 17 quarters. So, let's find out which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

According to publicly available hedge fund and institutional investor holdings data compiled by Insider Monkey, Fine Capital Partners, managed by Debra Fine, holds the largest position in Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL). Fine Capital Partners has a $16.9 million position in the stock, comprising 3.8% of its 13F portfolio. On Fine Capital Partners's heels is GMT Capital, managed by Thomas E. Claugus, which holds a $10.8 million position; 0.4% of its 13F portfolio is allocated to the company. Other members of the smart money with similar optimism consist of Israel Englander's Millennium Management, Ken Griffin's Citadel Investment Group and Cliff Asness's AQR Capital Management. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Fine Capital Partners allocated the biggest weight to Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL), around 3.81% of its 13F portfolio. Proxima Capital Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 2.29 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to WLL.

As industrywide interest jumped, some big names have jumped into Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL) headfirst. Millennium Management, managed by Israel Englander, initiated the most valuable position in Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL). Millennium Management had $7.7 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Richard Driehaus's Driehaus Capital also initiated a $2.7 million position during the quarter. The following funds were also among the new WLL investors: Mike Vranos's Ellington, David Rosen's Rubric Capital Management, and Louis Bacon's Moore Global Investments.

Let's now review hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL). We will take a look at The Andersons, Inc. (NASDAQ:ANDE), Photronics, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAB), CrossFirst Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:CFB), and Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR). This group of stocks' market values are closest to WLL's market value.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position ANDE,14,52713,9 PLAB,18,89460,1 CFB,6,20314,6 RGR,16,88127,3 Average,13.5,62654,4.75 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 13.5 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $63 million. That figure was $59 million in WLL's case. Photronics, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAB) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand CrossFirst Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:CFB) is the least popular one with only 6 bullish hedge fund positions. Compared to these stocks Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL) is more popular among hedge funds. 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 10.1 percentage points. Unfortunately WLL wasn't nearly as popular as these 20 stocks and hedge funds that were betting on WLL were disappointed as the stock returned -67.7% in 2019 and trailed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds as 65 percent of these stocks outperformed the market in 2019. Video: Click the image to watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

5 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds

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

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