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Finish Line Inc (NASDAQ:FINL), OfficeMax Inc (NYSE:OMX): This Metric Says You Are Smart to Buy EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW)

EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW) was in 15 hedge funds’ portfolio at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. EZPW has seen an increase in activity from the world’s largest hedge funds lately. There were 12 hedge funds in our database with EZPW positions at the end of the previous quarter.

EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW)In the eyes of most market participants, hedge funds are seen as unimportant, outdated financial vehicles of the past. While there are over 8000 funds in operation today, we at Insider Monkey look at the elite of this group, around 450 funds. It is widely believed that this group oversees most of the hedge fund industry’s total asset base, and by paying attention to their best investments, we have spotted a few investment strategies that have historically outpaced the broader indices. Our small-cap hedge fund strategy outperformed the S&P 500 index by 18 percentage points annually for a decade in our back tests, and since we’ve started sharing our picks with our subscribers at the end of August 2012, we have beaten the S&P 500 index by 25 percentage points in 6.5 month (see all of our picks from August).

Equally as key, optimistic insider trading activity is another way to break down the marketplace. Just as you’d expect, there are lots of motivations for a bullish insider to get rid of shares of his or her company, but just one, very clear reason why they would buy. Many academic studies have demonstrated the valuable potential of this strategy if “monkeys” know where to look (learn more here).

Keeping this in mind, we’re going to take a glance at the latest action surrounding EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW).

How have hedgies been trading EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW)?

Heading into 2013, a total of 15 of the hedge funds we track were bullish in this stock, a change of 25% from the previous quarter. With hedge funds’ positions undergoing their usual ebb and flow, there exists a few noteworthy hedge fund managers who were increasing their stakes significantly.

Of the funds we track, GMT Capital, managed by Thomas E. Claugus, holds the most valuable position in EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW). GMT Capital has a $42 million position in the stock, comprising 1% of its 13F portfolio. Sitting at the No. 2 spot is Gregg J. Powers of Private Capital Management, with a $32 million position; 0% of its 13F portfolio is allocated to the stock. Other hedge funds that hold long positions include Andy Redleaf’s Whitebox Advisors, Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group and Jim Simons’s Renaissance Technologies.

As one would reasonably expect, some big names were leading the bulls’ herd. Renaissance Technologies, managed by Jim Simons, created the most outsized position in EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW). Renaissance Technologies had 3 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Ken Gray and Steve Walsh’s Bryn Mawr Capital also initiated a $1 million position during the quarter. The other funds with new positions in the stock are Glenn Russell Dubin’s Highbridge Capital Management and Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke and John Campbell’s Arrowstreet Capital.

What have insiders been doing with EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW)?

Bullish insider trading is at its handiest when the company in focus has experienced transactions within the past 180 days. Over the last six-month time period, EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW) has seen zero unique insiders purchasing, and 2 insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

Let’s go over hedge fund and insider activity in other stocks similar to EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW). These stocks are Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS), Finish Line Inc (NASDAQ:FINL), OfficeMax Inc (NYSE:OMX), Francesca’s Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:FRAN), and Office Depot Inc (NYSE:ODP). This group of stocks are the members of the specialty retail, other industry and their market caps resemble EZPW’s market cap.

Company Name # of Hedge Funds # of Insiders Buying # of Insiders Selling
Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) 18 0 3
Finish Line Inc (NASDAQ:FINL) 15 0 5
OfficeMax Inc (NYSE:OMX) 18 0 1
Francesca’s Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:FRAN) 21 4 1
Office Depot Inc (NYSE:ODP) 15 5 0

With the returns exhibited by Insider Monkey’s research, retail investors should always monitor hedge fund and insider trading activity, and EZCORP Inc (NASDAQ:EZPW) applies perfectly to this mantra.

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