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Hedge Funds Were Buying Iron Mountain Incorporated (IRM) Before The Coronavirus

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 (10 coronavirus predictions).

In these volatile markets we scrutinize hedge fund filings to get a reading on which direction each stock might be going. Most investors tend to think that hedge funds and other asset managers are worthless, as they cannot beat even simple index fund portfolios. In fact, most people expect hedge funds to compete with and outperform the bull market that we have witnessed in recent years. However, hedge funds are generally partially hedged and aim at delivering attractive risk-adjusted returns rather than following the ups and downs of equity markets hoping that they will outperform the broader market. Our research shows that certain hedge funds do have great stock picking skills (and we can identify these hedge funds in advance pretty accurately), so let’s take a glance at the smart money sentiment towards Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM).

Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM) has seen an increase in enthusiasm from smart money lately. Our calculations also showed that IRM 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 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 S&P 500 ETFs by 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 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.

GOTHAM ASSET MANAGEMENT

Joel Greenblatt of Gotham Asset Management

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. Keeping this in mind we’re going to go over the fresh hedge fund action regarding Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM).

How are hedge funds trading Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM)?

Heading into the first quarter of 2020, a total of 17 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of 6% from the third quarter of 2019. Below, you can check out the change in hedge fund sentiment towards IRM 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.

The largest stake in Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM) was held by Citadel Investment Group, which reported holding $16.5 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by PEAK6 Capital Management with a $14.4 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included Two Sigma Advisors, D E Shaw, and Adage Capital Management. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Neo Ivy Capital allocated the biggest weight to Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM), around 0.2% of its 13F portfolio. Stevens Capital Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, setting aside 0.14 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to IRM.

As industrywide interest jumped, specific money managers have been driving this bullishness. Coatue Management, managed by Philippe Laffont, created the most outsized position in Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM). Coatue Management had $0.6 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Mario Gabelli’s GAMCO Investors also initiated a $0.5 million position during the quarter. The other funds with brand new IRM positions are Joel Greenblatt’s Gotham Asset Management, Murray Stahl’s Horizon Asset Management, and Renee Yao’s Neo Ivy Capital.

Let’s check out hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM). These stocks are AEGON N.V. (NYSE:AEG), Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc (NYSE:FBHS), Mobile TeleSystems PJSC (NYSE:MBT), and WEX Inc (NYSE:WEX). This group of stocks’ market valuations match IRM’s market valuation.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
AEG 6 29963 -1
FBHS 34 561867 0
MBT 13 478752 -1
WEX 25 393579 -1
Average 19.5 366040 -0.75

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 19.5 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $366 million. That figure was $42 million in IRM’s case. Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc (NYSE:FBHS) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand AEGON N.V. (NYSE:AEG) is the least popular one with only 6 bullish hedge fund positions. Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM) 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 41.3% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10.1 percentage points. These stocks lost 22.3% in 2020 through March 16th but still beat the market by 3.2 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on IRM as the stock returned -20.9% during the same time period and outperformed the market by an even larger margin.
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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