Is AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) Going to Burn These Hedge Funds?

Is AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) the right investment to pursue these days? The best stock pickers are selling. The number of bullish hedge fund positions went down by 2 in recent months.

To the average investor, there are tons of indicators market participants can use to analyze Mr. Market. A couple of the most useful are hedge fund and insider trading movement. At Insider Monkey, our studies have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the best fund managers can trounce the broader indices by a very impressive amount (see just how much).

AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN)

Equally as beneficial, bullish insider trading activity is a second way to break down the stock market universe. Just as you’d expect, there are a variety of motivations for an executive to downsize shares of his or her company, but just one, very obvious reason why they would initiate a purchase. Many academic studies have demonstrated the impressive potential of this tactic if you know where to look (learn more here).

With these “truths” under our belt, it’s important to take a gander at the key action regarding AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN).

How are hedge funds trading AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN)?

Heading into 2013, a total of 11 of the hedge funds we track were long in this stock, a change of -15% from the third quarter. With hedgies’ sentiment swirling, there exists a select group of notable hedge fund managers who were boosting their holdings significantly.

Of the funds we track, Renaissance Technologies, managed by Jim Simons, holds the biggest position in AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN). Renaissance Technologies has a $118 million position in the stock, comprising 0.3% of its 13F portfolio. Sitting at the No. 2 spot is John Overdeck and David Siegel of Two Sigma Advisors, with a $15 million position; the fund has 0.4% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Some other hedge funds that hold long positions include Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke and John Campbell’s Arrowstreet Capital, Michael Messner’s Seminole Capital (Investment Mgmt) and David Dreman’s Dreman Value Management.

Seeing as AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) has witnessed bearish sentiment from the entirety of the hedge funds we track, it’s easy to see that there exists a select few fund managers that elected to cut their positions entirely in Q4. At the top of the heap, Malcolm Fairbairn’s Ascend Capital sold off the largest investment of the 450+ funds we monitor, comprising about $8 million in stock.. Jacob Gottlieb’s fund, Visium Asset Management, also dropped its stock, about $2 million worth. These moves are interesting, as aggregate hedge fund interest dropped by 2 funds in Q4.

What do corporate executives and insiders think about AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN)?

Insider purchases made by high-level executives is particularly usable when the company we’re looking at has experienced transactions within the past 180 days. Over the latest six-month time frame, AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) has experienced zero unique insiders buying, and zero insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

With the results shown by the aforementioned studies, retail investors should always watch hedge fund and insider trading sentiment, and AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) shareholders fit into this picture quite nicely.

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