Is ABCB A Good Stock To Buy Now?

A whopping number of 13F filings filed with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been processed by Insider Monkey so that individual investors can look at the overall hedge fund sentiment towards the stocks included in their watchlists. These freshly-submitted public filings disclose money managers’ equity positions as of the end of the three-month period that ended September 30, so let’s proceed with the discussion of the hedge fund sentiment on Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB).

Is ABCB a good stock to buy now? Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB) was in 13 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of the third quarter of 2020. The all time high for this statistic is 18. ABCB investors should be aware of a decrease in activity from the world’s largest hedge funds of late. There were 17 hedge funds in our database with ABCB positions at the end of the second quarter. Our calculations also showed that ABCB isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q3 rankings and see the video for a quick look at the top 5 stocks).

Video: Watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

Why do we pay any attention at all to hedge fund sentiment? Our research has shown that a select group of hedge fund holdings outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 66 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 13% through November 17th. That’s why we believe hedge fund sentiment is an extremely useful indicator that investors should pay attention to.

Peter Rathjens Arrowstreet Capital 394

Peter Rathjens of Arrowstreet Capital

At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, Federal Reserve has been creating trillions of dollars electronically to keep the interest rates near zero. We believe this will lead to inflation and boost real estate prices. So, we recommended this real estate stock to our monthly premium newsletter subscribers. We go through lists like the 15 best blue chip stocks to pick the best large-cap stocks to buy. Even though we recommend positions in only a tiny fraction of the companies we analyze, we check out as many stocks as we can. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. You can subscribe to our free daily newsletter on our website. Keeping this in mind let’s take a look at the latest hedge fund action encompassing Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB).

Do Hedge Funds Think ABCB Is A Good Stock To Buy Now?

At third quarter’s end, a total of 13 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of -24% from the second quarter of 2020. By comparison, 16 hedge funds held shares or bullish call options in ABCB a year ago. With hedgies’ sentiment swirling, there exists a few noteworthy hedge fund managers who were upping their holdings meaningfully (or already accumulated large positions).

Is ABCB A Good Stock To Buy?

Of the funds tracked by Insider Monkey, Bernard Horn’s Polaris Capital Management has the number one position in Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB), worth close to $29 million, corresponding to 1.4% of its total 13F portfolio. On Polaris Capital Management’s heels is Millennium Management, led by Israel Englander, holding a $12.1 million position; less than 0.1%% of its 13F portfolio is allocated to the stock. Remaining professional money managers that hold long positions include Matthew Lindenbaum’s Basswood Capital, Anton Schutz’s Mendon Capital Advisors and Mark Lee’s Forest Hill Capital. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Mendon Capital Advisors allocated the biggest weight to Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB), around 5.91% of its 13F portfolio. JCSD Capital is also relatively very bullish on the stock, dishing out 2.08 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to ABCB.

Because Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB) has faced a decline in interest from hedge fund managers, we can see that there is a sect of money managers that decided to sell off their positions entirely in the third quarter. Interestingly, Paul Magidson, Jonathan Cohen. And Ostrom Enders’s Castine Capital Management cut the largest investment of all the hedgies watched by Insider Monkey, worth close to $9.1 million in stock. Ira Unschuld’s fund, Brant Point Investment Management, also sold off its stock, about $2.1 million worth. These moves are intriguing to say the least, as aggregate hedge fund interest was cut by 4 funds in the third quarter.

Let’s now take a look at hedge fund activity in other stocks – not necessarily in the same industry as Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB) but similarly valued. We will take a look at Omega Flex, Inc. (NASDAQ:OFLX), NetScout Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:NTCT), Washington Federal Inc. (NASDAQ:WAFD), AssetMark Financial Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AMK), Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (NYSE:HP), Spirit Airlines Incorporated (NASDAQ:SAVE), and Texas Capital Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:TCBI). All of these stocks’ market caps are similar to ABCB’s market cap.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
OFLX 4 5878 0
NTCT 11 103777 -5
WAFD 16 59276 2
AMK 10 38377 4
HP 31 165514 -2
SAVE 27 156821 4
TCBI 20 98996 -1
Average 17 89806 0.3

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 17 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $90 million. That figure was $79 million in ABCB’s case. Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (NYSE:HP) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Omega Flex, Inc. (NASDAQ:OFLX) is the least popular one with only 4 bullish hedge fund positions. Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for ABCB is 39.3. Stocks with higher number of hedge fund positions relative to other stocks as well as relative to their historical range receive a higher sentiment score. 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 percentage points. These stocks gained 32.9% in 2020 through December 8th and still beat the market by 16.2 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on ABCB as the stock returned 62.8% since the end of the third quarter (through 12/8) and outperformed the market by an even larger margin.

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