Do Hedge Funds Agree With Barclays PLC (ADR) (BCS)’s Top Financial Picks: Citigroup Inc (C), Manulife Financial Corporation (USA) (MFC) & MGIC Investment Corp. (MTG)

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On Monday, Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BCS) released its Americas Top Picks List, in which it revealed stocks that it believes can significantly outperform the market. The financial services company  has an “Overweight” rating on most of these stocks and they represent the leaders of their respective sectors. In this article, we will take a closer look at three financial stocks from Barclays’ list and see the hedge fund sentiment surrounding each one of them to find out if large investors share the same opinion. The companies that we will focus on are: Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), Manulife Financial Corporation (USA) (NYSE:MFC) and MGIC Investment Corp. (NYSE:MTG).

Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BCS)

Most investors don’t understand hedge funds and indicators that are based on hedge fund and insider activity. They ignore hedge funds because of their recent poor performance in the long-running bull market. Our research indicates that hedge funds underperformed because they aren’t 100% long. Hedge fund fees are also very large compared to the returns generated and they reduce the net returns enjoyed (or not) by investors. We uncovered through extensive research that hedge funds’ long positions in small-cap stocks actually greatly outperformed the market from 1999 to 2012, and built a system around this. The 15 most popular small-cap stocks among funds beat the S&P 500 Index by more than 84 percentage points since the end of August 2012 when this system went live, returning a cumulative 135.5% vs. 55% for the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) (read more details here). Likewise, other research (not our own) has shown insider purchases are also effective piggybacking methods for investors that lead to greater returns. That’s why we believe investors should pay attention to what hedge funds and insiders are buying and keep them apprised of this information.

Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) stock has jumped around 7% in the last three months. In May, Barclays reiterated its ‘Overweight’ rating on Citigroup, and raised the price target to $65. Barclays’ expects that Citigroup will be benefiting in 2015 from multiple factors like correcting qualitative issues identified in 2014 CCAR, increased focus on core business following the exits of non-core retail markets and businesses, continuous emerging market growth outpacing developed market growth. Moreover, Citigroup will benefit from a $48 billion deferred tax utilization, reduction in Citi Holdings, which contains its non-core businesses and portfolios, and 2015 profitability goals progress.

What do hedge funds think about Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C)? Many hedge funds opted to walk out of this stock by the end of first quarter, as the number of hedge funds holding long positions in the stock reduced to 126 at the end of the first trimester from 137 a quarter earlier. Even though the number of hedge fund position had dropped, the aggregate value of the capital invested by these hedge funds increased by 3% on the quarter to $11.63 billion. Among the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey, Boykin Curry‘s Eagle Capital Management holds the largest position in the stock with 26.3 million shares valued at $1.35 billion. On the contrary, Dan Loeb‘s Third Point sold all of its 5.0 million shares during the January-March period.

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