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Do Hedge Funds and Insiders Love WestAmerica Bancorp. (WABC)?

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WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC) was in 7 hedge funds’ portfolio at the end of December. WABC has experienced an increase in support from the world’s most elite money managers recently. There were 5 hedge funds in our database with WABC holdings at the end of the previous quarter.

WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC)

To the average investor, there are a multitude of metrics investors can use to monitor their holdings. A couple of the most underrated are hedge fund and insider trading sentiment. At Insider Monkey, our studies have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the best investment managers can outpace their index-focused peers by a very impressive amount (see just how much).

Equally as integral, bullish insider trading activity is a second way to break down the financial markets. Obviously, there are many motivations for a bullish insider to drop shares of his or her company, but only one, very simple reason why they would buy. Various empirical studies have demonstrated the market-beating potential of this strategy if investors understand where to look (learn more here).

Keeping this in mind, we’re going to take a look at the latest action surrounding WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC).

How have hedgies been trading WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC)?

Heading into 2013, a total of 7 of the hedge funds we track were bullish in this stock, a change of 40% from the previous quarter. With hedgies’ positions undergoing their usual ebb and flow, there exists a few key hedge fund managers who were boosting their stakes substantially.

When looking at the hedgies we track, Ken Fisher’s Fisher Asset Management had the largest position in WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC), worth close to $40.3 million, comprising 0.1% of its total 13F portfolio. The second largest stake is held by Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies, with a $11.5 million position; less than 0.1%% of its 13F portfolio is allocated to the company. Other peers with similar optimism include Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group, Matthew Lindenbaum’s Basswood Capital and Cliff Asness’s AQR Capital Management.

As one would reasonably expect, specific money managers were leading the bulls’ herd. Millennium Management, managed by Israel Englander, created the biggest position in WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC). Millennium Management had 0.2 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. John Overdeck and David Siegel’s Two Sigma Advisors also initiated a $0.2 million position during the quarter.

Insider trading activity in WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC)

Insider trading activity, especially when it’s bullish, is at its handiest when the company in focus has seen transactions within the past six months. Over the last half-year time period, WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC) has seen zero unique insiders purchasing, and 3 insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

Let’s also take a look at hedge fund and insider activity in other stocks similar to WestAmerica Bancorp. (NASDAQ:WABC). These stocks are BBCN Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:BBCN), PacWest Bancorp (NASDAQ:PACW), Glacier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:GBCI), CVB Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:CVBF), and Western Alliance Bancorporation (NYSE:WAL). This group of stocks belong to the regional – pacific banks industry and their market caps are similar to WABC’s market cap.

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