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Is Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (EBSB) A Good Stock To Buy?

The latest 13F reporting period has come and gone, and Insider Monkey have plowed through 821 13F filings that hedge funds and well-known value investors are required to file by the SEC. The 13F filings show the funds’ and investors’ portfolio positions as of March 31st, a week after the market trough. Now, we are almost done with the second quarter. Investors decided to bet on the economic recovery and a stock market rebound. S&P 500 Index returned almost 20% this quarter. In this article you are going to find out whether hedge funds thoughtMeridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBSB) was a good investment heading into the second quarter and how the stock traded in comparison to the top hedge fund picks.

Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBSB) shares haven’t seen a lot of action during the first quarter. Overall, hedge fund sentiment was unchanged. The stock was in 12 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of the first quarter of 2020. The level and the change in hedge fund popularity aren’t the only variables you need to analyze to decipher hedge funds’ perspectives. A stock may witness a boost in popularity but it may still be less popular than similarly priced stocks. That’s why at the end of this article we will examine companies such as Herc Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HRI), ImmunoGen, Inc. (NASDAQ:IMGN), and Columbus McKinnon Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCO) to gather more data points. Our calculations also showed that EBSB isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q1 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.

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 58 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.

RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES

Jim Simons Founder of Renaissance Technologies

At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. There is a lot of volatility in the markets and this presents amazing investment opportunities from time to time. For example, this trader claims to deliver juiced up returns with one trade a week, so we are checking out his highest conviction idea. A second trader claims to score lucrative profits by utilizing a “weekend trading strategy”, so we look into his strategy’s picks. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. We recently recommended several stocks partly inspired by legendary Bill Miller’s investor letter. Our best call in 2020 was shorting the market when the S&P 500 was trading at 3150 in February after realizing the coronavirus pandemic’s significance before most investors. With all of this in mind we’re going to review the new hedge fund action regarding Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBSB).

How have hedgies been trading Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBSB)?

Heading into the second quarter of 2020, a total of 12 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of 0% from the fourth quarter of 2019. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in EBSB over the last 18 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.

More specifically, Renaissance Technologies was the largest shareholder of Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBSB), with a stake worth $27.9 million reported as of the end of September. Trailing Renaissance Technologies was Impax Asset Management, which amassed a stake valued at $12.9 million. Millennium Management, Royce & Associates, and D E Shaw 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 MFP Investors allocated the biggest weight to Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBSB), around 0.23% of its 13F portfolio. Impax Asset Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, earmarking 0.17 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to EBSB.

We view hedge fund activity in the stock unfavorable, but in this case there was only a single hedge fund selling its entire position: ExodusPoint Capital. One hedge fund selling its entire position doesn’t always imply a bearish intent. Theoretically a hedge fund may decide to sell a promising position in order to invest the proceeds in a more promising idea. However, we don’t think this is the case in this case because only one of the 800+ hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey identified as a viable investment and initiated a position in the stock (that fund was Engineers Gate Manager).

Let’s check out hedge fund activity in other stocks – not necessarily in the same industry as Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBSB) but similarly valued. We will take a look at Herc Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HRI), ImmunoGen, Inc. (NASDAQ:IMGN), Columbus McKinnon Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCO), and Accel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:ACEL). This group of stocks’ market values are closest to EBSB’s market value.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
HRI 17 232260 -4
IMGN 19 150998 1
CMCO 16 28308 -3
ACEL 18 69509 3
Average 17.5 120269 -0.75

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 17.5 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $120 million. That figure was $55 million in EBSB’s case. ImmunoGen, Inc. (NASDAQ:IMGN) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Columbus McKinnon Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCO) is the least popular one with only 16 bullish hedge fund positions. Compared to these stocks Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBSB) is even less popular than CMCO. Hedge funds dodged a bullet by taking a bearish stance towards EBSB. Our calculations showed that the top 10 most popular hedge fund stocks returned 41.4% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10.1 percentage points. These stocks gained 12.3% in 2020 through June 30th but managed to beat the market by 15.5 percentage points. Unfortunately EBSB wasn’t nearly as popular as these 10 stocks (hedge fund sentiment was very bearish); EBSB investors were disappointed as the stock returned 4.1% during the second quarter and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds as most of these stocks already outperformed the market so far in 2020.

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