Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA): Are Hedge Funds Right About This Stock?

Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA) investors should be aware of a decrease in activity from the world’s largest hedge funds lately.

According to most shareholders, hedge funds are seen as slow, outdated financial tools of the past. While there are over 8000 funds in operation at the moment, we hone in on the moguls of this group, around 450 funds. It is estimated that this group controls the majority of the smart money’s total capital, and by paying attention to their highest performing stock picks, we have come up with a number of investment strategies that have historically outperformed the broader indices. Our small-cap hedge fund strategy outpaced the S&P 500 index by 18 percentage points a 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 outperformed the S&P 500 index by 25 percentage points in 6.5 month (see all of our picks from August).

Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA)

Equally as key, optimistic insider trading activity is another way to break down the marketplace. Obviously, there are a variety of motivations for an executive to drop shares of his or her company, but just one, very clear reason why they would initiate a purchase. Plenty of empirical studies have demonstrated the useful potential of this method if investors know what to do (learn more here).

Keeping this in mind, we’re going to take a gander at the recent action surrounding Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA).

How are hedge funds trading Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA)?

Heading into 2013, a total of 23 of the hedge funds we track held long positions in this stock, a change of -12% from one quarter earlier. With hedgies’ positions undergoing their usual ebb and flow, there exists a select group of key hedge fund managers who were upping their stakes meaningfully.

Of the funds we track, Royce & Associates, managed by Chuck Royce, holds the most valuable position in Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA). Royce & Associates has a $152 million position in the stock, comprising 0.5% of its 13F portfolio. The second largest stake is held by Ken Fisher of Fisher Asset Management, with a $65 million position; 2.6% of its 13F portfolio is allocated to the stock. Other hedgies with similar optimism include Jim Simons’s Renaissance Technologies, Richard Chilton’s Chilton Investment Company and Alexander Mitchell’s Scopus Asset Management.

Due to the fact that Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA) has witnessed declining sentiment from the smart money, it’s safe to say that there was a specific group of money managers that elected to cut their positions entirely heading into 2013. Intriguingly, David Keidan’s Buckingham Capital Management said goodbye to the largest investment of all the hedgies we monitor, worth an estimated $3 million in stock., and Joseph Vidich of Manalapan Oracle Capital Management was right behind this move, as the fund sold off about $2 million worth. These transactions are intriguing to say the least, as aggregate hedge fund interest fell by 3 funds heading into 2013.

What do corporate executives and insiders think about Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA)?

Bullish insider trading is best served when the primary stock in question has experienced transactions within the past half-year. Over the latest 180-day time period, Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA) has experienced zero unique insiders purchasing, and 7 insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

With the returns demonstrated by the aforementioned tactics, retail investors must always keep an eye on hedge fund and insider trading sentiment, and Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA) is an important part of this process.

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