The Insider Monkey team has completed processing the quarterly 13F filings for the December quarter submitted by the hedge funds and other money managers included in our extensive database. Most hedge fund investors experienced strong gains on the back of a strong market performance, which certainly propelled them to adjust their equity holdings so as to maintain the desired risk profile. As a result, the relevancy of these public filings and their content is indisputable, as they may reveal numerous high-potential stocks. The following article will discuss the smart money sentiment towards AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN).
Is AZN stock a buy or sell? AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) has experienced an increase in activity from the world’s largest hedge funds of late. AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) was in 41 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of the fourth quarter of 2020. The all time high for this statistic is 38. This means the bullish number of hedge fund positions in this stock currently sits at its all time high. Our calculations also showed that AZN isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q4 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 124 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here).
At Insider Monkey we leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example, the House passed a landmark bill decriminalizing marijuana. So, we are checking out this under the radar cannabis stock right now. We go through lists like the 10 best battery stocks to buy to identify the next stock with 10x upside potential. 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. Now let’s take a glance at the latest hedge fund action surrounding AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN).
Do Hedge Funds Think AZN Is A Good Stock To Buy Now?
Heading into the first quarter of 2021, a total of 41 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of 24% from one quarter earlier. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in AZN over the last 22 quarters. So, let’s find out which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.
Among these funds, Fisher Asset Management held the most valuable stake in AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN), which was worth $892.4 million at the end of the fourth quarter. On the second spot was GQG Partners which amassed $768.2 million worth of shares. Arrowstreet Capital, D E Shaw, and Point72 Asset Management 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 Eversept Partners allocated the biggest weight to AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN), around 5.07% of its 13F portfolio. Sabby Capital is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 3.5 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to AZN.
Now, key hedge funds were leading the bulls’ herd. D E Shaw, managed by D. E. Shaw, initiated the largest position in AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN). D E Shaw had $213.8 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Frank Brosens’s Taconic Capital also initiated a $26.5 million position during the quarter. The following funds were also among the new AZN investors: Carl Tiedemann and Michael Tiedemann’s TIG Advisors, Michael Castor’s Sio Capital, and Dmitry Balyasny’s Balyasny Asset Management.
Let’s now take a look at hedge fund activity in other stocks – not necessarily in the same industry as AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) but similarly valued. We will take a look at Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE), Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY). This group of stocks’ market caps are similar to AZN’s market cap.
|Ticker||No of HFs with positions||Total Value of HF Positions (x1000)||Change in HF Position|
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As you can see these stocks had an average of 60.3 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $4670 million. That figure was $2984 million in AZN’s case. Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) is the least popular one with only 15 bullish hedge fund positions. AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for AZN is 55.5. 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. This is a slightly negative signal and we’d rather spend our time researching stocks that hedge funds are piling on. Our calculations showed that top 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 81.2% in 2019 and 2020, and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 26 percentage points. These stocks gained 5.3% in 2021 through March 19th and surpassed the market again by 0.8 percentage points. Unfortunately AZN wasn’t nearly as popular as these 30 stocks (hedge fund sentiment was quite bearish); AZN investors were disappointed as the stock returned 0.3% since the end of December (through 3/19) and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds as most of these stocks already outperformed the market in 2020.
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Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider Monkey.