Should I Buy Investar Holding Corporation (ISTR)?

We at Insider Monkey have gone over 817 13F filings that hedge funds and prominent investors are required to file by the SEC The 13F filings show the funds’ and investors’ portfolio positions as of September 30th. In this article, we look at what those funds think of Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR) based on that data.

Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR) investors should pay attention to an increase in hedge fund sentiment of late. Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR) was in 5 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of September. The all time high for this statistics is 8. There were 4 hedge funds in our database with ISTR positions at the end of the second quarter. Our calculations also showed that ISTR isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q3 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.

In the financial world there are a large number of tools investors have at their disposal to grade stocks. A pair of the most under-the-radar tools are hedge fund and insider trading indicators. We have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the best fund managers can outperform the broader indices by a solid amount. Insider Monkey’s monthly stock picks returned 113% since March 2017 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by more than 66 percentage points. Our short strategy outperformed the S&P 500 short ETFs by 20 percentage points annually (see the details here). That’s why we believe hedge fund sentiment is a useful indicator that investors should pay attention to.

Phil Stone of Fourthstone LLC

At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, Federal Reserve has been creating trillions of dollars electronically to keep the interest rates near zero. We believe this will lead to inflation and boost real estate prices. So, we recommended this real estate stock to our monthly premium newsletter subscribers. We go through lists like the 15 best blue chip stocks to pick the best large-cap stocks to buy. Even though we recommend positions in only a tiny fraction of the companies we analyze, we check out as many stocks as we can. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. You can subscribe to our free daily newsletter on our website. Now we’re going to review the latest hedge fund action encompassing Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR).

How have hedgies been trading Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR)?

At third quarter’s end, a total of 5 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 25% from the previous quarter. On the other hand, there were a total of 6 hedge funds with a bullish position in ISTR a year ago. So, let’s examine which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

Is ISTR A Good Stock To Buy?

The largest stake in Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR) was held by EJF Capital, which reported holding $7.4 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by Royce & Associates with a $3.1 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included JCSD Capital, Renaissance Technologies, and Fourthstone LLC. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position JCSD Capital allocated the biggest weight to Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR), around 2.45% of its 13F portfolio. EJF Capital is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 0.62 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to ISTR.

Consequently, key hedge funds have been driving this bullishness. Fourthstone LLC, managed by Phil Stone, assembled the most valuable position in Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR). Fourthstone LLC had $0.2 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter.

Let’s now review hedge fund activity in other stocks – not necessarily in the same industry as Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR) but similarly valued. These stocks are Celyad Oncology SA (NASDAQ:CYAD), MVC Capital, Inc. (NYSE:MVC), Chemung Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:CHMG), Exterran Corporation (NYSE:EXTN), Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:SNCR), Shore Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:SHBI), and Surgalign Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SRGA). This group of stocks’ market caps are closest to ISTR’s market cap.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
CYAD 1 126 -1
MVC 8 38046 0
CHMG 3 7400 0
EXTN 11 7114 -3
SNCR 10 6587 0
SHBI 5 19132 -1
SRGA 13 10994 2
Average 7.3 12771 -0.4

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 7.3 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $13 million. That figure was $13 million in ISTR’s case. Surgalign Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SRGA) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Celyad Oncology SA (NASDAQ:CYAD) is the least popular one with only 1 bullish hedge fund positions. Investar Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:ISTR) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for ISTR is 41.4. Stocks with higher number of hedge fund positions relative to other stocks as well as relative to their historical range receive a higher sentiment score. 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 percentage points. These stocks gained 30.7% in 2020 through November 27th and still beat the market by 16.1 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on ISTR as the stock returned 33.6% since the end of the third quarter (through 11/27) and outperformed the market by an even larger margin.

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