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Do Hedge Funds and Insiders Love Astoria Financial Corp (AF)?

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Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF) investors should be aware of a decrease in hedge fund interest recently.

In today’s marketplace, there are plenty of gauges market participants can use to watch the equity markets. A duo of the most useful are hedge fund and insider trading sentiment. At Insider Monkey, our research analyses have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the elite fund managers can trounce the broader indices by a superb margin (see just how much).

Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF)

Just as beneficial, optimistic insider trading activity is another way to break down the financial markets. There are lots of reasons for a bullish insider to get rid of shares of his or her company, but only one, very simple reason why they would initiate a purchase. Various empirical studies have demonstrated the valuable potential of this strategy if you know what to do (learn more here).

With these “truths” under our belt, let’s take a glance at the recent action surrounding Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF).

What does the smart money think about Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF)?

At the end of the first quarter, a total of 11 of the hedge funds we track were bullish in this stock, a change of -27% from the first quarter. With the smart money’s positions undergoing their usual ebb and flow, there exists a few noteworthy hedge fund managers who were boosting their holdings considerably.

When looking at the hedgies we track, Polaris Capital Management, managed by Bernard Horn, holds the most valuable position in Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF). Polaris Capital Management has a $44.9 million position in the stock, comprising 2.6% of its 13F portfolio. The second largest stake is held by Citadel Investment Group, managed by Ken Griffin, which held a $14.8 million position; the fund has less than 0.1%% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Other hedgies with similar optimism include Matthew Lindenbaum’s Basswood Capital, Neil Chriss’s Hutchin Hill Capital and Jim Simons’s Renaissance Technologies.

Because Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF) has experienced falling interest from hedge fund managers, logic holds that there lies a certain “tier” of hedgies that slashed their positions entirely in Q1. Interestingly, Brian Taylor’s Pine River Capital Management said goodbye to the largest position of the “upper crust” of funds we track, comprising close to $6.9 million in stock., and Anil Stevens and Glenn Shapiro of Parameter Capital Management was right behind this move, as the fund sold off about $2.8 million worth. These bearish behaviors are interesting, as aggregate hedge fund interest dropped by 4 funds in Q1.

What do corporate executives and insiders think about Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF)?

Insider purchases made by high-level executives is particularly usable when the company in focus has seen transactions within the past six months. Over the last half-year time frame, Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF) has experienced zero unique insiders purchasing, and 4 insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

Let’s also review hedge fund and insider activity in other stocks similar to Astoria Financial Corp (NYSE:AF). These stocks are Sterling Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:STSA), Flagstar Bancorp Inc (NYSE:FBC), Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI), Columbia Banking System Inc (NASDAQ:COLB), and Provident Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE:PFS). This group of stocks belong to the savings & loans industry and their market caps are similar to AF’s market cap.

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