Forest Hill Capital Is Really Fond of Financial Stocks

Forest Hill Capital is a financial investment advisory firm headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. Managed by Mark Lee, the fund focuses mainly on financial stocks, which account for e than 95% of the total value of its equity portfolio, which slightly surpasses $1 billion in value.During the first three months of 2014, the fund started eight new stock positions, closed out three of its preexisting holdings, and increased its exposure to another 12 companies.

PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC)

Mr. Lee’s top two positions changed over the quarter. The first place is now occupied by PNC Financial Services Group Inc (NYSE:PNC), a $45.2 billion market cap financial services company that operates in six segments: Retail Banking; Corporate & Institutional Banking; Asset Management Group; Residential Mortgage Banking; BlackRock; and Non-Strategic Assets Portfolio. In his fund’s last Form 13F filing, Lee declared having started a position in this stock with 646,930 shares of the company. His holdings are worth about $50 million, and account for approximately 5% of his total portfolio’s value.

However, this position is smaller when compared with that of Richard S. Pzena’s Pzena Investment Management, which owns over 3.4 million shares (worth more than $300 million), and that of Ric Dillon’s Diamond Hill Capital, which holds 2.19 million shares.

The second place in this list is now held by Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), a $13.96 billion market cap provider of traditional commercial, retail and mortgage banking services and other financial services. The company occupied the third spot in the Forest Hill’s list by the end of Q4 2013 and, although Mr. Lee decided to reduce its stakes by 12% over Q1 2014, this holding, valued at roughly $45 million -about 4 million shares, is now its second-largest. Once again, this bet is smaller in relation to Ken Griffin’s (Citadel Investment Group) 10 million shares, worth about $111 million, and Jim Simons’ (Renaissance Technologies), 6.5 million shares.

Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:SASR), which used to be the fund’s second most valuable holding, was displaced to the third spot over the first fiscal quarter. This $607 million market cap holding company for Sandy Spring Bank, saw Forest Hill increase its bets by 6% over Q1. The fund last declared owning 1.79 million shares, worth about $44 million. This makes of Mr. Lee the largest hedge fund shareholder at the company.Jim Simons’ Renaissance Technologies can be counted amongst the company’s largest shareholders. Its 112,889 shares make it the second-largest hedge fund investor out of the funds tracked by us.

Finally, there’s UMB Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:UMBF), a $2.5 billion market cap banking and financial services provider that saw Forest Hill’s position remain unchanged over the quarter. Its 672,411 shares make it the largest hedge fund shareholder. The only fund with a position comparable to Forest Hill’s is Martin Whitman’s Third Avenue Management, which owns 503,860, up by 32% in relation to the previous quarter.

Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no position in any stocks mentioned

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