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LINE Corporation (LN): Are Hedge Funds Right About This Stock?

We hate to say this but, we told you so. On February 27th we published an article with the title Recession is Imminent: We Need A Travel Ban NOW and predicted a US recession when the S&P 500 Index was trading at the 3150 level. We also told you to short the market and buy long-term Treasury bonds. Our article also called for a total international travel ban. While we were warning you, President Trump minimized the threat and failed to act promptly. As a result of his inaction, we will now experience a deeper recession (10 coronavirus predictions).

In these volatile markets we scrutinize hedge fund filings to get a reading on which direction each stock might be going. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at whether LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN) is a good investment right now. We like to analyze hedge fund sentiment before conducting days of in-depth research. We do so because hedge funds and other elite investors have numerous Ivy League graduates, expert network advisers, and supply chain tipsters working or consulting for them. There is not a shortage of news stories covering failed hedge fund investments and it is a fact that hedge funds’ picks don’t beat the market 100% of the time, but their consensus picks have historically done very well and have outperformed the market after adjusting for risk.

LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN) has seen an increase in support from the world’s most elite money managers in recent months. Our calculations also showed that LN isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q4 rankings and see the video at the end of this article for Q3 rankings).

So, why do we pay attention to hedge fund sentiment before making any investment decisions? 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 more than 41 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. Even if you aren’t comfortable with shorting stocks, you should at least avoid initiating long positions in stocks that are in our short portfolio.

Lei Zhang Hillhouse Capital

Lei Zhang of Hillhouse Capital Management

We leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example we recently identified a stock that trades 25% below the net cash on its balance sheet. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences, and go through short-term trade recommendations like this one. We even check out the recommendations of services with hard to believe track records. Our best call in 2020 was shorting the market when S&P 500 was trading at 3150 after realizing the coronavirus pandemic’s significance before most investors. Keeping this in mind let’s take a look at the key hedge fund action surrounding LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN).

What have hedge funds been doing with LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN)?

At Q4’s end, a total of 13 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 63% from the third quarter of 2019. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in LN 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.

The largest stake in LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN) was held by Hillhouse Capital Management, which reported holding $55 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by Manikay Partners with a $13 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included Renaissance Technologies, Millennium Management, and Tremblant Capital. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Manikay Partners allocated the biggest weight to LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN), around 1.46% of its 13F portfolio. CSat Investment Advisory is also relatively very bullish on the stock, dishing out 0.89 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to LN.

As aggregate interest increased, some big names were breaking ground themselves. Manikay Partners, managed by Shane Finemore, initiated the most valuable position in LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN). Manikay Partners had $13 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group also initiated a $0.9 million position during the quarter. The other funds with new positions in the stock are Frank Slattery’s Symmetry Peak Management, Daniel S. Och’s OZ Management, and Donald Sussman’s Paloma Partners.

Let’s check out hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN). We will take a look at The Trade Desk, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTD), Lincoln National Corporation (NYSE:LNC), Godaddy Inc (NYSE:GDDY), and Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:TYL). This group of stocks’ market caps match LN’s market cap.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
TTD 24 368569 -2
LNC 40 1212971 3
GDDY 51 2626449 0
TYL 21 528540 -10
Average 34 1184132 -2.25

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 34 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $1184 million. That figure was $96 million in LN’s case. Godaddy Inc (NYSE:GDDY) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:TYL) is the least popular one with only 21 bullish hedge fund positions. Compared to these stocks LINE Corporation (NYSE:LN) is even less popular than TYL. Hedge funds clearly dropped the ball on LN as the stock delivered strong returns, though hedge funds’ consensus picks still generated respectable returns. 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 10.1 percentage points. These stocks lost 22.3% in 2020 through March 16th but still beat the market by 3.2 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on LN as the stock returned -5.2% during the same time period and outperformed the market by an even larger margin.
5 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds
Video: Click the image to watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

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

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