Should You Avoid Wintrust Financial Corp (WTFC)?

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Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC)Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC) was in 6 hedge funds’ portfolio at the end of December. WTFC investors should pay attention to a decrease in hedge fund interest recently. There were 6 hedge funds in our database with WTFC holdings at the end of the previous quarter.

In the financial world, there are tons of methods investors can use to monitor the equity markets. Some of the most under-the-radar are hedge fund and insider trading sentiment. At Insider Monkey, our research analyses have shown that, historically, those who follow the best picks of the top investment managers can trounce the market by a very impressive margin (see just how much).

Just as beneficial, optimistic insider trading activity is a second way to break down the investments you’re interested in. Obviously, there are a variety of motivations for an executive to get rid of shares of his or her company, but just one, very simple reason why they would behave bullishly. Various empirical studies have demonstrated the impressive potential of this strategy if shareholders understand what to do (learn more here).

With all of this in mind, we’re going to take a gander at the latest action regarding Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC).

How have hedgies been trading Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC)?

Heading into 2013, a total of 6 of the hedge funds we track held long positions in this stock, a change of 0% from one quarter earlier. With the smart money’s sentiment swirling, there exists an “upper tier” of key hedge fund managers who were upping their stakes substantially.

According to our comprehensive database, Dreman Value Management, managed by David Dreman, holds the most valuable position in Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC). Dreman Value Management has a $26.9 million position in the stock, comprising 0.8% of its 13F portfolio. The second largest stake is held by Cliff Asness of AQR Capital Management, with a $8.9 million position; less than 0.1%% of its 13F portfolio is allocated to the stock. Remaining hedgies that hold long positions include Mike Vranos’s Ellington, Ken Gray and Steve Walsh’s Bryn Mawr Capital and Cliff Asness’s AQR Capital Management.

Seeing as Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC) has witnessed bearish sentiment from hedge fund managers, we can see that there exists a select few funds that decided to sell off their full holdings heading into 2013. Intriguingly, Bart Baum’s Ionic Capital Management dumped the largest investment of the “upper crust” of funds we monitor, worth an estimated $0.8 million in call options, and Steven Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors was right behind this move, as the fund sold off about $0.4 million worth. These transactions are important to note, as aggregate hedge fund interest stayed the same (this is a bearish signal in our experience).

How have insiders been trading Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC)?

Bullish insider trading is most useful when the primary stock in question has seen transactions within the past 180 days. Over the last 180-day time frame, Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC) has seen zero unique insiders purchasing, and 4 insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

Let’s also examine hedge fund and insider activity in other stocks similar to Wintrust Financial Corp (NASDAQ:WTFC). These stocks are Firstmerit Corp (NASDAQ:FMER), Park National Corporation (NYSEAMEX:PRK), PrivateBancorp Inc (NASDAQ:PVTB), MB Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ:MBFI), and Old National Bancorp (NYSE:ONB). This group of stocks belong to the regional – midwest banks industry and their market caps match WTFC’s market cap.

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