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Hedge Funds Have Never Been This Bullish On National Instruments Corporation (NATI)

We hate to say this but, we told you so. On February 27th we published an article with the title Recession is Imminent: We Need A Travel Ban NOW and predicted a US recession when the S&P 500 Index was trading at the 3150 level. We also told you to short the market and buy long-term Treasury bonds. Our article also called for a total international travel ban. While we were warning you, President Trump minimized the threat and failed to act promptly. As a result of his inaction, we will now experience a deeper recession (see why hell is coming).

In these volatile markets we scrutinize hedge fund filings to get a reading on which direction each stock might be going. Hedge Funds and other institutional investors have just completed filing their 13Fs with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing their equity portfolios as of the end of June. At Insider Monkey, we follow nearly 835 active hedge funds and notable investors and by analyzing their 13F filings, we can determine the stocks that they are collectively bullish on. One of their picks is National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI), so let’s take a closer look at the sentiment that surrounds it in the current quarter.

National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI) was in 30 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019. NATI investors should be aware of an increase in hedge fund interest in recent months. There were 27 hedge funds in our database with NATI positions at the end of the previous quarter. Our calculations also showed that NATI isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q4 rankings and see the video at the end of this article for Q3 rankings).

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 was able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by more than 41 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’ll significantly underperform the market. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 and they lost 35.3% through March 3rd. That’s why we believe hedge fund sentiment is an extremely useful indicator that investors should pay attention to.

Paul Marshall Marshall Wace

Paul Marshall of Marshall Wace

We leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example we recently identified a stock that trades 25% below the net cash on its balance sheet. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences, and go through short-term trade recommendations like this one. We even check out the recommendations of services with hard to believe track records. Our best call in 2020 was shorting the market when S&P 500 was trading at 3150 after realizing the coronavirus pandemic’s significance before most investors. With all of this in mind let’s take a gander at the latest hedge fund action surrounding National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI).

What does smart money think about National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI)?

Heading into the first quarter of 2020, a total of 30 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 11% from the third quarter of 2019. Below, you can check out the change in hedge fund sentiment towards NATI over the last 18 quarters. So, let’s review which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

Among these funds, Royce & Associates held the most valuable stake in National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI), which was worth $68 million at the end of the third quarter. On the second spot was D E Shaw which amassed $31 million worth of shares. Arrowstreet Capital, Bares Capital Management, and Woodline Partners were also very fond of the stock, becoming one of the largest hedge fund holders of the company. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Woodline Partners allocated the biggest weight to National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI), around 1.03% of its 13F portfolio. Bares Capital Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 0.75 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to NATI.

Consequently, some big names have been driving this bullishness. Woodline Partners, managed by Michael Rockefeller and Karl Kroeker, established the largest position in National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI). Woodline Partners had $25.2 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Renaissance Technologies also initiated a $13.6 million position during the quarter. The other funds with new positions in the stock are Paul Marshall and Ian Wace’s Marshall Wace LLP, Leon Shaulov’s Maplelane Capital, and Donald Sussman’s Paloma Partners.

Let’s now review hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI). These stocks are EPR Properties (NYSE:EPR), TFS Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:TFSL), Toll Brothers Inc (NYSE:TOL), and The Howard Hughes Corporation (NYSE:HHC). This group of stocks’ market caps resemble NATI’s market cap.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
EPR 24 227647 1
TFSL 11 173480 3
TOL 31 504909 7
HHC 25 671378 -1
Average 22.75 394354 2.5

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 22.75 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $394 million. That figure was $295 million in NATI’s case. Toll Brothers Inc (NYSE:TOL) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand TFS Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:TFSL) is the least popular one with only 11 bullish hedge fund positions. National Instruments Corporation (NASDAQ:NATI) is not the most popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still above average. This is a slightly positive signal but we’d rather spend our time researching stocks that hedge funds are piling on. Our calculations showed that top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 41.3% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10.1 percentage points. These stocks lost 17.4% in 2020 through March 25th but beat the market by 5.5 percentage points. Unfortunately NATI wasn’t nearly as popular as these 20 stocks and hedge funds that were betting on NATI were disappointed as the stock returned -30.4% during the same time period and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds as many of these stocks already outperformed the market so far this year.
5 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds
Video: Click the image to watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

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

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