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Most Searched Tickers Among Financial Advisors: Focus on Tech Following Earnings

With the earnings season in progress, the U.S stock market is still losing ground, despite several attempts to recover. The decline has come mainly on the back of concerns about weak oil prices and economic growth in China, since the results reported by companies have been better than expected overall. According to FactSet, as of the end of January, 40% of the companies in the S&P 500 had reported their financial results for the latest quarter, with 72% of those posting EPS above the consensus estimates, while 50% posted sales better than estimates. However, the drop in oil prices puts a negative light on the EPS growth for energy companies, which will affect the performance of the S&P 500 Index as a whole.

As we have for the past two months in a weekly series of articles, we are looking into some of the stocks that were the most-searched for by financial analysts the week before, based on data provided by Trackstar, the official newsletter of Investing Channel’s Intuition. In the week of January 24-to-January 30, financial advisors were more interested in the technology sector, with five tech stocks ranking among the top 20 most-searched tickers. Moreover, four of these stocks ranked in the top five of the list. In this article we are going to take a look at the five most-searched tickers among financial advisors last week and will assess the developments that put these stocks in the spotlight. In addition, we will see what the smart money investors think about these stocks, which may provide some details regarding the long-term prospects of these companies. At Insider Monkey, we track around 730 hedge funds and other institutional investors as part of our small-cap strategy. Through extensive research, we determined that imitating the top small-cap picks among these funds can help a retail investor outperform the market by an average of 95 basis points per month over the long term (see details here).

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) remained on the first spot of the list, similar to previous weeks. Last week, the company posted its financial results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, which showed both revenue and EPS above the consensus estimate. However, investors were disappointed to see 74.8 million iPhones sold during the quarter, which was below the expectations of 75.46 million units. That figure represented nearly flat iPhone sales growth and the smallest growth since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. Apple’s stock is currently down by around 8% year-to-date, and after the jump registered by Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s stock on the back of the results, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) ceased to be the largest company in terms of market capitalization.

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Now all eyes will be on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s next event, where it will reveal new products. Despite the sluggish iPhone sales, most analysts reiterated bullish ratings on the stock, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., which earlier this week reiterated an ‘Overweight’ rating and $141 price target. Moreover, Apple is the second-most popular stock among the investors we track, with 133 funds holding shares according to the previous round of 13F filings.

On the second spot is Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), which did not make it to the top 20 of last week’s list. Amazon reported its financial results last week, which disappointed investors, despite growing in year-on-year terms. The e-commerce giant posted net income of $1.00 per share, while sales of $35.75 billion increased by 22% year-on-year. However, analysts were expecting EPS of $1.56 and $35.93 billion in revenue. Amazon also registered a 69% annual growth in its Web Services sales for the quarter, which totaled $2.41 billion. For the full year, the company reported net sales of $107 billion, up by 20% and EPS of $1.25 per share, compared to a loss of $0.52 reported a year earlier.

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Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) was a top-performing stock last year, having registered a growth of over 100%. However, this year, amid an overall market selloff and weaker-than expected results, the stock is 21% in the red year-to-date. Nevertheless, Amazon’s performance last year was not being overlooked by smart money investors, as during the third quarter alone, the number of funds bullish on the stock (among those we track) went up by ten to 113, while in aggregate, these investors amassed 6.30% of the company’s outstanding stock by the end of September. We shall wait until the current round of 13F filings is complete to see if the same sentiment towards Amazon persisted in the last three months of 2015.

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) jumped to the third spot on the list of the most-searched tickers, as the market was digesting the company’s financial results reported a week earlier. Netflix managed to beat profit estimates with fourth-quarter adjusted EPS of $0.07 and revenue of $1.82 billion, which was mixed in relation to consensus estimates of $0.02 in EPS on revenue of $1.83 billion. The company also added 5.59 million net subscribers during the quarter and expects to add 6.1 million subscribers in the current quarter.

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Netflix’s stock is down by more than 20% since the beginning of 2016 as investors become more concerned about the company’s valuation and mounting competition. The shares are trading at a forward P/E of 126.6 and despite the year-to-date decline, they are still 39% in the green over the last 52 weeks. Among the funds we track, 57 reported stakes in Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) as of the end of September, amassing nearly 15% of the company, versus 50 funds a quarter earlier.

On the fourth spot is biotech company, Intrexon Corp (NYSE:XON), which has been included in the top 20 list several weeks in a row. Intrexon has gained more attention amid the escalation of threats from the Zika virus, as it is one of the few publicly-traded companies engaged in finding a solution to combat the virus. Last year, Intrexon acquired Oxitec, a company specialized in developing biological insect control solutions. The timing of the acquisition couldn’t be better and in December, Intrexon Corp (NYSE:XON) issued a statement saying that Oxitec was going to increase supplies of its mosquito control solutions, OX513A, through its facilities in Brazil. The World Health Organization said earlier this week that Zika represents a global health emergency and that threat might speed the approval of OX513A in other countries, including the U.S.

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Among the funds we track, only 17 reported long positions in Intrexon Corp (NYSE:XON) in the last round of 13F filings, versus 21 funds in the quarter prior to that. However, the recent developments are likely to have raised the stock’s popularity among smart money investors.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is the fourth tech stock that ranked as the most-searched among financial advisors last week and the fifth-most searched stock overall, as the company managed to easily beat estimates for the fourth quarter. The social media company posted EPS of $0.79 on revenue of $5.84 billion, which were better than the highest estimates and topped the consensus estimates of $0.68 in EPS and revenue of $5.37 billion. For the full year, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s revenue surged by 44% to $17.93 billion. The company also provided a better-than-expected monthly active users figure of 1.59 billion, versus 1.58 billion expected by the Street. Moreover, Facebook reported strong mobile segment growth, with more than 90% of the monthly active users having been on mobile in the fourth quarter. The strong results propelled the stock higher and sent it 4% into the green year-to-date.

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Facebook’s stock lost some popularity among the funds we track during the third quarter, but it still ranked as one of the most popular stocks overall. A total of 128 funds held shares at the end of September, versus 133 funds a quarter earlier. Stephen Mandel’s Lone Pine Capital is the largest shareholder of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) in our database, holding 10.70 million shares as of the end of September. In the current round of 13F filings, billionaire Ken Fisher‘s Fisher Asset Management disclosed ownership of 311,182 shares of Facebook.

See the full list of the top 20 most-searched tickers among financial advisors on the following page.

Nr. Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x$1000) Change in HF Positions
1 AAPL  133 17410678 -11
2 AMZN  113 14981060 10
3 NFLX  57 6509142 7
4  XON  17 205510 -4
5  FB  128 8955439 -5
6 MSFT  113 19313046 6
7  COST  38 1783917 -6
8  FCX  44 1390319 3
9 GILD  90 4762780 6
10  LINE  5 2319 -1
11 ESPR  18 140275 -10
12  BBY  28 700302 -6
13  LNG  62 7122951 -14
14 EOG  60 1539301 3
15  WYNN  34 1066706 -1
16 GE  74 5951572 4
17 CL  31 1803185 -4
18 CAT  40 1236703 10
19  DIS  48 3367786 -12
20  AXP  52 16119933 -5

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