Hedge Funds Are Betting On First Financial Holdings, Inc. (FFCH)

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Is First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH) a cheap investment right now? Investors who are in the know are becoming more confident. The number of long hedge fund positions went up by 2 in recent months.

First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH)In the eyes of most shareholders, hedge funds are assumed to be unimportant, outdated investment tools of years past. While there are greater than 8000 funds with their doors open at present, we look at the elite of this club, around 450 funds. It is estimated that this group has its hands on most of the hedge fund industry’s total asset base, and by keeping an eye on their best stock picks, we have deciphered a few investment strategies that have historically outperformed the market. Our small-cap hedge fund strategy outpaced the S&P 500 index by 18 percentage points annually 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 beaten the S&P 500 index by 24 percentage points in 7 months (explore the details and some picks here).

Equally as important, optimistic insider trading sentiment is a second way to break down the marketplace. As the old adage goes: there are a number of stimuli for an executive to downsize shares of his or her company, but only one, very clear reason why they would behave bullishly. Several academic studies have demonstrated the impressive potential of this strategy if investors know what to do (learn more here).

Now, it’s important to take a gander at the recent action surrounding First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH).

How have hedgies been trading First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH)?

In preparation for this year, a total of 10 of the hedge funds we track held long positions in this stock, a change of 25% from the third quarter. With hedge funds’ sentiment swirling, there exists a select group of key hedge fund managers who were increasing their holdings meaningfully.

When looking at the hedgies we track, Basswood Capital, managed by Matthew Lindenbaum, holds the biggest position in First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH). Basswood Capital has a $6.7 million position in the stock, comprising 0.7% of its 13F portfolio. Sitting at the No. 2 spot is Royce & Associates, managed by Chuck Royce, which held a $2.7 million position; the fund has less than 0.1%% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Remaining hedgies that hold long positions include Gregg J. Powers’s Private Capital Management, Jim Simons’s Renaissance Technologies and Israel Englander’s Millennium Management.

As aggregate interest increased, key money managers were leading the bulls’ herd. Millennium Management, managed by Israel Englander, assembled the most valuable position in First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH). Millennium Management had 0.6 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group also initiated a $0.2 million position during the quarter.

What do corporate executives and insiders think about First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH)?

Insider purchases made by high-level executives is particularly usable when the company we’re looking at has seen transactions within the past half-year. Over the last six-month time frame, First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH) has experienced 1 unique insiders buying, and zero insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

Let’s also review hedge fund and insider activity in other stocks similar to First Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFCH). These stocks are Provident New York Bancorp (NYSE:PBNY), United Financial Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:UBNK), HomeStreet Inc (NASDAQ:HMST), Clifton Savings Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSBK), and Rockville Financial Inc (NASDAQ:RCKB). This group of stocks belong to the savings & loans industry and their market caps are similar to FFCH’s market cap.

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