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Five Food Chain Stocks Hedge Funds Like: Kroger Co. (KR), Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM), & More

Food chain store segment offers some solid stocks for investors. The stocks are robust as they deal with daily needs of the consumers. However, currently the sector seems to be going through turmoil. Major companies such as The Kroger Co. and Sprouts Farmers Market have cut their earnings outlook. Other stocks such as GNC Holdings have seen their ratings downgraded. Although the sector faces headwinds in the near-term, it still offers a good opportunity for long-term investors. Having this in mind, we decided to compile a list of food chain stocks that the smart money investors tracked by us are the most bullish on.

Through extensive research, we determined that imitating some of the picks of hedge funds and other institutional investors can help generate market-beating returns over the long run. The key is to focus on the small-cap picks of these investors, since they are usually less followed by the broader market and are less price-efficient. Our backtests that covered the period between 1999 and 2012, showed that following the 15 most popular small-caps among hedge funds can help a retail investor beat the market by an average of 95 basis points per month (see more details here).

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Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) has recently reported its second-quarter financial results, which included earnings of $0.47 per share, beating the consensus forecast of $0.45 per share. However, investors were disappointed as Kroger’s sales for the quarter missed the estimates. The company reported sales of $26.6 billion, below the expected $26.8 billion. Excluding fuel, Kroger’s identical supermarket sales for the quarter rose 1.7% in the second quarter. Kroger also lowered its adjusted earnings outlook for the full fiscal year. The company now expects earnings to come in between $2.10 per share and $2.20 per share, compared to a consensus estimate of $2.20 per share. Among the funds we track at Insider Monkey, 35 held $1.02 billion worth Kroger’s stock in aggregate at the end of June, having amassed 2.90% of its outstanding stock, compared to 30 funds that held $770 million worth of shares a quarter earlier.

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GNC Holdings Inc. (NYSE:GNC) is scheduled to report its quarterly earnings on September 20. GNC is expected to report earnings of $0.71 per share on revenue of $673.22 million. Among the funds in our database, 31 owned approximately $268.8 million worth of GNC Holdings’ stock in aggregate at the end of June, compared to 27 funds that held $409.8 million worth of shares at the end of March.

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