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Why Are These Four Stocks Plunging On Thursday?

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At a time when the broader market is off by under 1%, shares of Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE:FLO), Energizer Holdings Inc (NYSE:ENR) , KLX Inc (NASDAQ:KLXI), and MAXIMUS, Inc. (NYSE:MMS) are off by substantially more. In this article, we examine why investors are selling and analyze what hedge funds think of each stock.

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Stuart Monk/

But why do we track hedge fund activity? From one point of view we can argue that hedge funds are consistently underperforming when it comes to net returns over the last three years, when compared to the S&P 500. But that doesn’t mean that we should completely neglect their activity. There are various reasons behind the low hedge fund returns. Our research indicated that hedge funds’ long positions actually beat the market. In our back-tests covering the 1999-2012 period hedge funds’ top small-cap stocks edged the S&P 500 index by double digits annually. The 15 most popular small-cap stock picks among hedge funds also bested passive index funds by around 53 percentage points over the 36 month period beginning from September 2012 (see the details here).

First up, shares of Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE:FLO) are down by 10% despite the company reporting a strong third quarter. For its recent reporting period, Flower Foods earned $0.23 per share on revenue of $885.3 million, meeting EPS estimates and exceeding revenue estimates by $11.98 million. Sales increased 4.8% year-over-year while adjusted EBITDA rose 6.1% to $105 million. Weaker-than-expected margin guidance could have something to do with the stock’s softness, however, as management expects EPS of $0.96-0.98 for full year 2015, versus the consensus of $1 per share. Hedge funds are indifferent on Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE:FLO), as only 14 funds out of our database of around 730 elite funds reported stakes worth $165.55 million (representing 3.70% of the float) at the end of June,

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Second, Energizer Holdings Inc (NYSE:ENR) shares have declined by 10.5% by midday trading after the company’s organic growth fell short of estimates. Because of the strong dollar and a weaker macro-economic climate, Energizer Holding’s organic sales retreated 3.6% year-over-year in the fourth fiscal quarter, causing the company to miss analyst EPS estimates by $0.01, by posting EPS of $0.69. Guidance is lackluster, with management expecting organic sales to be the same or down low single digits in fiscal year 2016. Because of the Thursday’s fall, Energizer Holdings Inc (NYSE:ENR) stock is roughly flat year-to-date.  With a dividend yield of 2.5% and forward P/E of 16, shares of Energizer Holdings might not have much more room to fall before the stock becomes a value play, however.

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On the next page, we examine why KLX Inc and MAXIMUS shares are off.

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