The U.S stock market is extending its volatility and is about to close the first month of 2016 in the red, as investors are looking worryingly towards China and oil. On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee reiterated its plans to increase interest rates this year, but expressed concerns about global economic growth. The FOMC did not increase the interest rate, but suggested that a further increase can be expected in March. When we look at the most-searched tickers among financial advisors last week, we also see some signs of concern. For one thing, the list is dominated by large-cap stocks that sport strong fundamentals, which could be a signal of a low appetite for risk. At the same time, for the first time since we have been covering the list of the 20 most searched tickers, four exchange traded funds made the list, which shows that investors might be looking at ways to reduce their volatility (two of the ETFs have considerable exposure to China).
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the highlights from the list of the top 20 most searched tickers among financial advisors, based on the data provided by Trackstar, the official newsletter of Investing Channel’s Intuition. In addition, we are going to present the information related to the hedge fund sentiment towards the stocks that made it to the list. We assess this metric based on our analysis of equity portfolios of over 700 funds, whose long positions we track as part of our small-cap strategy. Through extensive research, we determined that imitating the 15 most popular small-cap stocks among hedge funds, a retail investor can beat the market by as much as one percentage point per month and generate a double-digit alpha per year over the long-run (see more details here).
As it was during the previous week, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) ranked on the first two positions for the week of January 17 to January 23. Apple’s stock gained 4% during the week, as investors were closely watching the stock ahead of the tech giant’s holiday quarter financial report. Yesterday, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) posted those results, for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, which showed earnings of $3.28 per share, above the $3.23 that was expected, though the revenue of $75.9 billion was below the estimates of $76.54 billion. However, what made investors more concerned was the sale of 74.8 million iPhones, which missed the expectations of 75.46 million units and showed nearly flat growth over the year, which was the smallest growth rate since the launch of the iPhone back in 2007. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s stock slid by 7% over the worries of an iPhone sales slow-down, and weaker-than-expected guidance for the current quarter, which includes sales of between $50 billion and $53 billion (analysts were expecting $55.60 billion). Nevertheless, Apple’s financials are strong and the stock is highly popular among institutional investors. Before the earnings release, Blackrock disclosed a 5.7% position in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and among the investors we track, 133 of them reported long positions in the company as of the end of September, which makes it the second-most popular stock in our database.
On the next page we are going to look at some other companies, as well as ETFs that ranked among the top 20 most searched tickers.