Hedge funds are known to underperform the bull markets but that’s not because they are bad at investing. Truth be told, most hedge fund managers and other smaller players within this industry are very smart and skilled investors. Of course, they may also make wrong bets in some instances, but no one knows what the future holds and how market participants will react to the bountiful news that floods in each day. Hedge funds underperform because they are hedged. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index ETFs returned approximately 27.5% through the end of November (including dividend payments). Conversely, hedge funds’ top 20 large-cap stock picks generated a return of 37.4% during the same period. An average long/short hedge fund returned only a fraction of this due to the hedges they implement and the large fees they charge. Our research covering the last 18 years indicates that investors can outperform the market by imitating hedge funds’ consensus stock picks rather than directly investing in hedge funds. That’s why we believe it isn’t a waste of time to check out hedge fund sentiment before you invest in a stock like StealthGas Inc. (NASDAQ:GASS).
StealthGas Inc. (NASDAQ:GASS) has seen a decrease in hedge fund sentiment in recent months. Our calculations also showed that GASS isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q3 rankings and see the video below for Q2 rankings).
Video: Click the image to watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.
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 Russell 2000 ETFs by 40 percentage points since May 2014 (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.
We leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example Discover is offering this insane cashback card, so we look into shorting the stock. One of the most bullish analysts in America just put his money where his mouth is. He says, “I’m investing more today than I did back in early 2009.” So we check out his pitch. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. We even check out this option genius’ weekly trade ideas. This December, we recommended Adams Energy as a one-way bet based on an under-the-radar fund manager’s investor letter and the stock already gained 20 percent. Now let’s analyze the key hedge fund action encompassing StealthGas Inc. (NASDAQ:GASS).
What have hedge funds been doing with StealthGas Inc. (NASDAQ:GASS)?
At Q3’s end, a total of 5 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of -17% from the previous quarter. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in GASS over the last 17 quarters. So, let’s review which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.
According to Insider Monkey’s hedge fund database, Glendon Capital Management, managed by Matthew Barrett, holds the largest position in StealthGas Inc. (NASDAQ:GASS). Glendon Capital Management has a $19.7 million position in the stock, comprising 4.5% of its 13F portfolio. On Glendon Capital Management’s heels is MSDC Management, managed by Marc Lisker, Glenn Fuhrman and John Phelan, which holds a $11.2 million position; the fund has 1.5% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Other hedge funds and institutional investors that hold long positions consist of Jonathan Kolatch’s Redwood Capital Management, Chuck Royce’s Royce & Associates. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Glendon Capital Management allocated the biggest weight to StealthGas Inc. (NASDAQ:GASS), around 4.54% of its 13F portfolio. MSDC Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, setting aside 1.51 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to GASS.
We view hedge fund activity in the stock unfavorable, but in this case there was only a single hedge fund selling its entire position: Millennium Management. One hedge fund selling its entire position doesn’t always imply a bearish intent. Theoretically a hedge fund may decide to sell a promising position in order to invest the proceeds in a more promising idea. However, we don’t think this is the case in this case because none of the 750+ hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey identified GASS as a viable investment and initiated a position in the stock.
Let’s check out hedge fund activity in other stocks – not necessarily in the same industry as StealthGas Inc. (NASDAQ:GASS) but similarly valued. We will take a look at GigOptix Inc (NYSE:GIG), Intevac, Inc. (NASDAQ:IVAC), VAALCO Energy, Inc. (NYSE:EGY), and Allied Esports Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AESE). This group of stocks’ market values resemble GASS’s market value.
|Ticker||No of HFs with positions||Total Value of HF Positions (x1000)||Change in HF Position|
View table here if you experience formatting issues.
As you can see these stocks had an average of 5.5 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $15 million. That figure was $46 million in GASS’s case. VAALCO Energy, Inc. (NYSE:EGY) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Allied Esports Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AESE) is the least popular one with only 3 bullish hedge fund positions. StealthGas Inc. (NASDAQ:GASS) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. Our calculations showed that top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 37.4% in 2019 through the end of November and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 9.9 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on GASS as the stock returned 14.9% during the first two months of Q4 and outperformed the market by an even larger margin.
Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider Monkey.