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American International Group Inc (AIG), Citigroup Inc. (C) & JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Lead The Most Popular Financial Stocks In The Hedge Fund Industry

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There are a number of things we look for when hedge funds and other major investors release their quarterly 13F filings. Of course, any new picks from star investors such as Warren Buffett or David Einhorn get our attention. In addition, we’ve found that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds tend to outperform the S&P 500 by 18 percentage points per year on average (learn more about our small cap strategy) and we like to update our model portfolio following this strategy (this portfolio returned 33 percentage points above the market over the last 11 months). It can also be useful to see which stocks are hedge fund favorites in particular sectors or industries- not to blindly follow these picks, but to see which segments of the sector or industry funds like and if there are any interesting ideas there. Here are the ten finance and insurance stocks which the largest number of filers in our database reported owning as of the end of June:

The top pick in this area was American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG), the second most popular pick overall (check out the full top ten list). The insurer has done fairly well over the last year but still trades at a discount to the book value of its equity with a P/B ratio of 0.7. Recent reports also show moderate growth in both revenue and earnings compared to a year ago.

APPALOOSA MANAGEMENT LP

Hedge funds’ favorite bank is Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C); 121 funds reported owning the stock in their filings. Among them was billionaire David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management, which increased its stake to a total of 9.6 million shares (see Tepper’s stock picks). Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) is another financial trading at a discount to book (the P/B ratio here is 0.8) and analyst expectations for next year imply a forward P/E of 9.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) is another popular financial among hedge funds. The bank has been encountering legal problems, which may be part of the reason why it is trading clearly in value territory- both the trailing and forward earnings multiples are 9. Fisher Asset Management, managed by billionaire Ken Fisher, owned over 13 million shares (research more stocks Fisher owns).

Several funds closed their positions in Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) last quarter, but it still kept a spot among the most popular financials. The discount to book is particularly significant here, though the bank is dependent on cost cutting to prove a good value from an earnings perspective. Billionaire Kerr Neilson’s Platinum Asset Management is one significant shareholder (see more stocks in Neilson’s portfolio).

Warren Buffett is known as a big fan of Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC), and his holding company Berkshire Hathaway led our list of significant shareholders of that bank. Find Buffett’s favorite stocks. Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC)’s earnings multiples are in line with those of its peers, even though its perceived safety results in a staggeringly high (by comparison) P/B of 1.5.

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