Symetra Financial Corporation (SYA): Are Hedge Funds Right About This Stock?

Is Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA) going to take off soon? Investors who are in the know are taking an optimistic view. The number of long hedge fund bets inched up by 1 lately.

If you’d ask most stock holders, hedge funds are perceived as worthless, old investment tools of yesteryear. While there are greater than 8000 funds in operation today, we hone in on the elite of this club, about 450 funds. It is estimated that this group has its hands on the majority of the smart money’s total capital, and by keeping an eye on their best stock picks, we have figured out a number of investment strategies that have historically outstripped the broader indices. Our small-cap hedge fund strategy outpaced the S&P 500 index by 18 percentage points per year for a decade in our back tests, and since we’ve started sharing our picks with our subscribers at the end of August 2012, we have outpaced the S&P 500 index by 23.3 percentage points in 8 months (check out a sample of our picks).

Just as integral, bullish insider trading activity is another way to parse down the investments you’re interested in. Obviously, there are lots of incentives for a bullish insider to sell shares of his or her company, but only one, very obvious reason why they would behave bullishly. Many empirical studies have demonstrated the useful potential of this method if piggybackers know where to look (learn more here).

With these “truths” under our belt, we’re going to take a peek at the recent action encompassing Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA).

Hedge fund activity in Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA)

Heading into Q2, a total of 15 of the hedge funds we track held long positions in this stock, a change of 7% from one quarter earlier. With the smart money’s capital changing hands, there exists a select group of key hedge fund managers who were boosting their stakes substantially.

Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA)Of the funds we track, Osterweis Capital Management, managed by John Osterweis, holds the biggest position in Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA). Osterweis Capital Management has a $39.2 million position in the stock, comprising 1.5% of its 13F portfolio. The second largest stake is held by Jonathon Jacobson of Highfields Capital Management, with a $32.9 million position; the fund has 0.3% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Other peers that hold long positions include Michael Price’s MFP Investors, David Dreman’s Dreman Value Management and D. E. Shaw’s D E Shaw.

With a general bullishness amongst the heavyweights, some big names have jumped into Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA) headfirst. Fine Capital Partners, managed by Debra Fine, initiated the largest position in Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA). Fine Capital Partners had 8.8 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Israel Englander’s Millennium Management also made a $0.9 million investment in the stock during the quarter. The only other fund with a new position in the stock is David Costen Haley’s HBK Investments.

What do corporate executives and insiders think about Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA)?

Insider buying is best served when the company we’re looking at has seen transactions within the past 180 days. Over the last six-month time period, Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA) has experienced zero unique insiders buying, and 1 insider sales (see the details of insider trades here).

Let’s go over hedge fund and insider activity in other stocks similar to Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA). These stocks are National Western Life Insurance Company (NASDAQ:NWLI), Protective Life Corp. (NYSE:PL), American Equity Investment Life Holding (NYSE:AEL), and Primerica, Inc. (NYSE:PRI). This group of stocks are in the life insurance industry and their market caps are closest to SYA’s market cap.

Company Name # of Hedge Funds # of Insiders Buying # of Insiders Selling
National Western Life Insurance Company (NASDAQ:NWLI) 5 0 2
Protective Life Corp. (NYSE:PL) 14 0 3
American Equity Investment Life Holding (NYSE:AEL) 13 1 4
Primerica, Inc. (NYSE:PRI) 12 0 12

With the results shown by the aforementioned research, retail investors must always watch hedge fund and insider trading sentiment, and Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA) is no exception.

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