Big Hedge Funds Washed Their Hands of These Companies in Q1

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The latest round of 13F filings was wrapped up (for the most part) on Monday, as thousands of hedge funds reported the content of their equity portfolios with the SEC, as of end of the first quarter. We’ve already found and reported on a number of prominent moves made by some of the top investors that we track and in this article we’ll do the same, with an eye on some large positions that were dumped during the first quarter. Given that, these stocks could be considered compelling short ideas by some, or stocks that retail investors should be wary of at the least, given that prominent hedge funds including Stephen Mandel‘s Lone Pine Capital, Viking Global, George Soros‘ family office, and Point72 Asset Management, offloaded their entire holdings in these companies during the first three months of the year. Of course, we can’t firmly state whether it was a bearish take on these stocks, or other factors like portfolio rebalancing that led to their removal, so these moves should be considered alongside other factors as part of an analysis process. With that said, let’s check out five stocks that world-class money managers disposed large positions in during the first quarter.

At Insider Monkey, we follow around 800 smart money investors, whose 13F portfolios we analyze quarterly to determine how they are collectively trading thousands of stocks. We identify their top 15 small-cap stocks using this methodology, and have built a market-beating investment strategy around that data (see more details here).

Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE:WTW)

Steve Cohen‘s family office Point72 Asset Management ditched its entire stake in the $846 million provider of weight management services, which comprised 1.93 million shares on December 31. Considering that Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE:WTW)’s stock has cratered by more than 41% since the start of the year and that short interest in the company is standing at about 29% of the float as of April 29, it is safe to say that there is substantial bearish sentiment around the company. The excitement surrounding Oprah Winfrey buying a 10% stake in the company and joining its board in October of last year seems to be fading away, though shares are still up by nearly 100% since the day before her involvement was announced. The company is still looking for ways to collaborate more with Winfrey and did show some positive customer growth in the first quarter, so all hope is not lost. Another fund that disposed of its entire Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE:WTW) holding in the first quarter was Marc Majzner‘s Clearline Capital, which held 1.62 million shares at the end of last year.

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McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD)

The $112 billion fast food company is looking to make a turnaround by revamping its products and services, and the endeavor has thus far been successful, with shares having rallied by more than 8% this year. Soros Fund Management appears to be believe there is not much room left to run for the stock from here however, having offloaded its 494,200 shares of McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) in the first quarter. Daniel S. Och’s OZ Management also cut its stake in the company by 61% to 2.18 million shares during the same period. McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) managed to beat both the top and bottom-line estimates with its first quarter financial results and the short interest in the company stood at just 1.17% of its outstanding float on April 29.

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We’ll look into the dumping of three other major stocks by hedge funds during the first quarter on page two.

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