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Solar and Biotech Stocks Are Leading Today’s Gainers

U.S. stocks opened higher today, with the Dow Jones up by triple digits at one point in time, before turning south and briefly dipping into red. Investors are nervously awaiting the Fed’s interest rate decision, yet some of them are relaxed, after their stocks managed some solid advances early on. Let’s find out why First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR), Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ), China Finance Online Co. (ADR) (NASDAQ:JRJC), Advaxis, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADXS), and Acasti Pharma Inc (NASDAQ:ACST) are among the top gainers of this morning.

Most investors can’t outperform the stock market by individually picking stocks because stock returns aren’t evenly distributed. A randomly picked stock has only a 35% to 45% chance (depending on the investment horizon) to outperform the market. There are a few exceptions, one of which is when it comes to purchases made by corporate insiders. Academic research has shown that certain insider purchases historically outperformed the market by an average of seven percentage points per year. This effect is more pronounced in small-cap stocks. Another exception is the small-cap stock picks of hedge funds. Our research has shown that the 15 most popular small-cap stocks among hedge funds outperformed the market by nearly a percentage point per month between 1999 and 2012. We have been forward testing the performance of these stock picks since the end of August 2012 and they have returned more than 102% over the ensuing 38 months, outperforming the S&P 500 Index by nearly 53 percentage points (read the details here). The trick is focusing only on the best small-cap stock picks of funds, not their large-cap stock picks which are extensively covered by analysts and followed by almost everybody.

Solar stocks are surging today, after the U.S. lawmakers announced a tax and budget deal late Tuesday. Shares of First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) have jumped by as much as 10% so far today. The stock has been on a hot streak this week, after 195 countries, including the United States, agreed to lower greenhouse gas emissions on Saturday at the Paris climate conference. The deal could lead to a shift from traditional energy sources to renewable sources, including solar.

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At the end of the third quarter, First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) could be found in the portfolios of 34 elite funds, up from 30 funds a quarter earlier. Israel Englander is a big fan of the stock, having boosted his investment by 433% over the quarter to amass 1.05 million shares valued at $45.2 million.

It’s not just U.S. solar stocks that are on the rise today. Shares of Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ) are up by more than 8% after the company announced the sale of its Illumination LP solar power plant to an affiliate of DIF Infrastructure III, in a deal worth CAD 65.9 million ($48.4 million). Canadian Solar has also announced it has secured a tranche of $80 million under its previously announced loan deal with Credit Suisse. In return, the company has issued two-year warrants to purchase up to 940,171 shares at a price of $28.08 per share, as stipulated by the terms of the loan.

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Hedge fund support for Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ) took a tumble during the third quarter, as the number of hedge fund long positions decreased to 22 from 32 at the end of June. Israel Englander’s Millennium Management is the largest holder of Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ) stock, according to our database, having reported ownership of 2.65 million shares worth a little over $44.1 million.

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