ClearBridge on Booking Holdings (BKNG): “We View Recent Investor Profit-Taking as Healthy”

ClearBridge Investments, an investment management firm, published its “Large Cap Value Strategy” second quarter 2021 investor letter – a copy of which can be downloaded here. The ClearBridge Large Cap Value Strategy outperformed its Russell 1000 Value Index benchmark during the second quarter. On an absolute basis, the Strategy had gains in nine of 11 sectors in which it was invested for the quarter. The strongest contributions came from the financials, industrials, communication services and information technology (IT) sectors. The utilities and consumer discretionary sectors were detractors. You can view the fund’s top 5 holdings to have a peek at their top bets for 2021.

In the Q2 2021 investor letter of ClearBridge Investments, the fund mentioned Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), and discussed its stance on the firm. Booking Holdings Inc. is a Norwalk, Connecticut-based travel company, that currently has an $89.1 billion market capitalization. BKNG delivered a -2.46% return since the beginning of the year, while its 12-month revenues are up by 25.41%. The stock closed at $2,169.39 per share on July 15, 2021.

Here is what ClearBridge Investments has to say about Booking Holdings Inc. in its Q2 2021 investor letter:

“The moderation of the recovery trade meant a pause in shares of some companies that saw early gains following positive vaccine announcements in November. Online travel agency Booking’s exposure to a slower recovery in Europe weighed on share prices as Europe’s vaccine rollout lagged that of the U.S. and the U.K. Agricultural, construction and forestry equipment manufacturer Deere lagged in the quarter after generating extraordinary performance over the preceding 12 months driven by strong execution and its leadership position in precision agriculture, the adoption of which has been picking up pace in core geographies. In light of the stock’s strong performance, we view recent investor profit-taking as healthy.”

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Based on our calculations, Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG) ranks 18th in our list of the 30 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds. Booking Holdings Inc. was in 103 hedge fund portfolios at the end of the first quarter of 2021, compared to 108 funds in the fourth quarter of 2020. BKNG delivered a -12.26% return in the past 3 months.

Hedge funds’ reputation as shrewd investors has been tarnished in the last decade as their hedged returns couldn’t keep up with the unhedged returns of the market indices. Our research has shown that hedge funds’ small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of outperformance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 115 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that underperformed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of underperformance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.

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Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.