NBT Bancorp Inc. (NBTB): Hedge Funds and Insiders Are Bullish, What Should You Do?: Beneficial Mutual Bancorp Inc (BNCL), Oritani Financial Corp. (ORIT)

NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB) was in 5 hedge funds’ portfolio at the end of December. NBTB shareholders have witnessed an increase in activity from the world’s largest hedge funds in recent months. There were 2 hedge funds in our database with NBTB positions at the end of the previous quarter.

NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB)According to most investors, hedge funds are viewed as worthless, outdated investment tools of yesteryear. While there are greater than 8000 funds trading today, we at Insider Monkey choose to focus on the bigwigs of this club, close to 450 funds. It is estimated that this group controls most of the smart money’s total capital, and by monitoring their top equity investments, we have determined a number of investment strategies that have historically outstripped the broader indices. Our small-cap hedge fund strategy outstripped the S&P 500 index by 18 percentage points per year for a decade in our back tests, and since we’ve began to sharing our picks with our subscribers at the end of August 2012, we have topped the S&P 500 index by 24 percentage points in 7 months (see all of our picks from August).

Just as important, optimistic insider trading activity is another way to break down the stock market universe. As the old adage goes: there are a variety of reasons for a corporate insider to sell shares of his or her company, but just one, very clear reason why they would initiate a purchase. Various empirical studies have demonstrated the valuable potential of this tactic if piggybackers know where to look (learn more here).

With these “truths” under our belt, let’s take a peek at the recent action regarding NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB).

What does the smart money think about NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB)?

At year’s end, a total of 5 of the hedge funds we track held long positions in this stock, a change of 150% from the third quarter. With hedge funds’ sentiment swirling, there exists a few noteworthy hedge fund managers who were increasing their stakes substantially.

According to our comprehensive database, Cliff Asness’s AQR Capital Management had the most valuable position in NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB), worth close to $8.7 million, accounting for less than 0.1%% of its total 13F portfolio. Sitting at the No. 2 spot is Dreman Value Management, managed by David Dreman, which held a $6.6 million position; the fund has 0.2% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Some other peers that are bullish include Jim Simons’s Renaissance Technologies, Ken Gray and Steve Walsh’s Bryn Mawr Capital and Paul Tudor Jones’s Tudor Investment Corp.

As industrywide interest jumped, key money managers were breaking ground themselves. Renaissance Technologies, managed by Jim Simons, initiated the most outsized position in NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB). Renaissance Technologies had 1.1 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Ken Gray and Steve Walsh’s Bryn Mawr Capital also initiated a $1 million position during the quarter. The only other fund with a new position in the stock is Paul Tudor Jones’s Tudor Investment Corp.

How are insiders trading NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB)?

Insider trading activity, especially when it’s bullish, is most useful when the company in focus has seen transactions within the past 180 days. Over the last 180-day time period, NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB) has experienced 1 unique insiders purchasing, and 5 insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

Let’s also examine hedge fund and insider activity in other stocks similar to NBT Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:NBTB). These stocks are Beneficial Mutual Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:BNCL), Oritani Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:ORIT), Boston Private Financial Hldg Inc (NASDAQ:BPFH), First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF), and Independent Bank Corp (NASDAQ:INDB). This group of stocks belong to the regional – northeast banks industry and their market caps resemble NBTB’s market cap.