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Is Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI) A Good Stock To Buy?

The latest 13F reporting period has come and gone, and Insider Monkey is again at the forefront when it comes to making use of this gold mine of data. We have processed the filings of the more than 700 world-class investment firms that we track and now have access to the collective wisdom contained in these filings, which are based on their September 30 holdings, data that is available nowhere else. Should you consider Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI) for your portfolio? We’ll look to this invaluable collective wisdom for the answer.

The first thing we noticed about Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI) is the unchanged hedge fund sentiment lately. There were 10 hedge funds with long positions in the stock at the end of September. 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 Geron Corporation (NASDAQ:GERN), Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:LIND), and Fairmount Santrol Holdings Inc (NYSE:FMSA) to gather more data points.

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To the average investor there are a large number of signals market participants use to grade their holdings. Two of the best signals are hedge fund and insider trading moves. Experts at hedge fund tracking site Insider Monkey have shown that, historically, those who follow the best picks of the top money managers can outperform the market by a superb amount (see the details here).

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the key action encompassing Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI).

How are hedge funds trading Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI)?

At the end of the third quarter, a total of 10 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish in this stock, a change of 0% from one quarter earlier. With hedgies’ positions undergoing their usual ebb and flow, there exists a select group of key hedge fund managers who were increasing their holdings meaningfully (or already accumulated large positions).

When looking at the hedgies followed by Insider Monkey, Basswood Capital, managed by Matthew Lindenbaum, holds the most valuable position in Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI). Basswood Capital has a $23.3 million position in the stock, comprising 1.1% of its 13F portfolio. On Basswood Capital’s heels is Renaissance Technologies, founded by billionaire Jim Simons, holding a $4.8 million position; the fund has less than 0.1%% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Other hedgies that hold long positions include Brian Ashford-Russell and Tim Woolley’s Polar Capital, Andy Redleaf’s Whitebox Advisors and another quant hedge fund Two Sigma Advisors.

We view hedge fund activity in the stock unfavorable, but in this case there was only a single hedge fund selling its entire position: Springbok 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 700+ hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey identified PPBI as a viable investment and initiated a position in the stock.

Let’s also review hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI). These stocks are Geron Corporation (NASDAQ:GERN), Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:LIND), Fairmount Santrol Holdings Inc (NYSE:FMSA), and Fogo de Chao Inc (NASDAQ:FOGO). All of these stocks’ market caps match PPBI’s market cap.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
GERN 11 13518 0
LIND 15 68545 15
FMSA 7 9468 0
FOGO 9 18770 -1

As you can see these stocks had an average of 10.5 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $28 million. Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:LIND) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Fairmount Santrol Holdings Inc (NYSE:FMSA) is the least popular one with only 7 bullish hedge fund positions. Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:PPBI) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. This is a slightly negative signal and we’d rather spend our time researching stocks that hedge funds are piling on. In this regard LIND might be a better candidate to consider a long position.

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