This Metric Says You Are Smart to Buy First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (FNFG)

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Is First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG) a buy, sell, or hold? Prominent investors are getting more optimistic. The number of bullish hedge fund positions inched up by 1 in recent months.

First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG)At the moment, there are tons of gauges market participants can use to watch the equity markets. A pair of the most innovative are hedge fund and insider trading interest. At Insider Monkey, our research analyses have shown that, historically, those who follow the best picks of the top investment managers can beat the S&P 500 by a healthy margin (see just how much).

Equally as key, optimistic insider trading sentiment is a second way to parse down the financial markets. Obviously, there are plenty of reasons for an executive to drop shares of his or her company, but just one, very simple reason why they would initiate a purchase. Many empirical studies have demonstrated the useful potential of this tactic if piggybackers understand what to do (learn more here).

Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at the recent action surrounding First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG).

What does the smart money think about First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG)?

Heading into Q2, a total of 19 of the hedge funds we track held long positions in this stock, a change of 6% 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 holdings considerably.

When looking at the hedgies we track, Citadel Investment Group, managed by Ken Griffin, holds the largest position in First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG). Citadel Investment Group has a $60.7 million position in the stock, comprising 0.1% of its 13F portfolio. The second largest stake is held by Dreman Value Management, managed by David Dreman, which held a $27.1 million position; the fund has 0.7% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Some other hedgies with similar optimism include Israel Englander’s Millennium Management, Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors and Ric Dillon’s Diamond Hill Capital.

As aggregate interest increased, key hedge funds have been driving this bullishness. Hutchin Hill Capital, managed by Neil Chriss, assembled the largest position in First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG). Hutchin Hill Capital had 13.1 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Daniel S. Och’s OZ Management also made a $12.1 million investment in the stock during the quarter. The following funds were also among the new FNFG investors: Bruce Kovner’s Caxton Associates LP, Israel Englander’s Catapult Capital Management, and Louis Bacon’s Moore Global Investments.

Insider trading activity in First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG)

Insider trading activity, especially when it’s bullish, is most useful when the company we’re looking at has seen transactions within the past six months. Over the latest half-year time period, First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG) has seen 3 unique insiders buying, and zero insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

Let’s check out hedge fund and insider activity in other stocks similar to First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG). These stocks are Washington Federal Inc. (NASDAQ:WAFD), Ocwen Financial Corporation (NYSE:OCN), Hudson City Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:HCBK), People’s United Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ:PBCT), and Investors Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISBC). This group of stocks are the members of the savings & loans industry and their market caps are similar to FNFG’s market cap.

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