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Here is What Hedge Funds Think About Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA)

Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) was in 21 hedge funds’ portfolio at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. PNRA has experienced an increase in activity from the world’s largest hedge funds in recent months. There were 17 hedge funds in our database with PNRA positions at the end of the previous quarter.

To most stock holders, hedge funds are perceived as underperforming, old investment vehicles of years past. While there are greater than 8000 funds trading at the moment, we at Insider Monkey hone in on the crème de la crème of this club, close to 450 funds. It is estimated that this group has its hands on the lion’s share of the smart money’s total asset base, and by paying attention to their best picks, we have uncovered a number of investment strategies that have historically outperformed Mr. Market. Our small-cap hedge fund strategy outpaced the S&P 500 index by 18 percentage points per year for a decade in our back tests, and since we’ve began to sharing our picks with our subscribers at the end of August 2012, we have trumped the S&P 500 index by 25 percentage points in 6.5 month (see all of our picks from August).

Just as important, optimistic insider trading activity is another way to break down the stock market universe. Just as you’d expect, there are plenty of reasons for a bullish insider to cut shares of his or her company, but just one, very simple reason why they would initiate a purchase. Plenty of empirical studies have demonstrated the useful potential of this strategy if shareholders know where to look (learn more here).

Keeping this in mind, we’re going to take a peek at the recent action regarding Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA).

What have hedge funds been doing with Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA)?

At year’s end, a total of 21 of the hedge funds we track held long positions in this stock, a change of 24% from the previous quarter. With hedgies’ positions undergoing their usual ebb and flow, there exists an “upper tier” of notable hedge fund managers who were upping their holdings significantly.

Of the funds we track, Jim Simons’s Renaissance Technologies had the biggest position in Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA), worth close to $152 million, comprising 0.4% of its total 13F portfolio. Sitting at the No. 2 spot is SAC Capital Advisors, managed by Steven Cohen, which held a $65 million position; the fund has 0.3% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Remaining peers with similar optimism include Panayotis æTakisÆ Sparaggis’s Alkeon Capital Management, Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group and Israel Englander’s Millennium Management.

As industrywide interest jumped, some big names have jumped into Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) headfirst. Sigma Capital Management, managed by SAC Subsidiary, assembled the biggest position in Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA). Sigma Capital Management had 19 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Lee Hobson’s Highside Capital Management also made a $13 million investment in the stock during the quarter. The other funds with brand new PNRA positions are Glenn Russell Dubin’s Highbridge Capital Management, Andy Redleaf’s Whitebox Advisors, and Mike Vranos’s Ellington.

How have insiders been trading Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA)?

Insider buying is best served when the company in question has seen transactions within the past 180 days. Over the latest half-year time period, Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) has seen zero unique insiders purchasing, and 6 insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

With the returns exhibited by the aforementioned tactics, everyday investors should always watch hedge fund and insider trading sentiment, and Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) shareholders fit into this picture quite nicely.

Click here to learn more about Insider Monkey’s Hedge Fund Newsletter

Insider Monkey’s small-cap strategy returned 29.2% between September 2012 and February 2013 versus 8.7% for the S&P 500 index. Try it now by clicking the link above.

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