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Were Hedge Funds Right About FedEx Corporation (FDX)?

We hate to say this but, we told you so. On February 27th we published an article with the title Recession is Imminent: We Need A Travel Ban NOW and predicted a US recession when the S&P 500 Index was trading at the 3150 level. We also told you to short the market and buy long-term Treasury bonds. Our article also called for a total international travel ban. While we were warning you, President Trump minimized the threat and failed to act promptly. As a result of his inaction, we will now experience a deeper recession (see why hell is coming).

In these volatile markets we scrutinize hedge fund filings to get a reading on which direction each stock might be going. The financial regulations require hedge funds and wealthy investors that exceeded the $100 million equity holdings threshold to file a report that shows their positions at the end of every quarter. Even though it isn’t the intention, these filings to a certain extent level the playing field for ordinary investors. The latest round of 13F filings disclosed the funds’ positions on December 31st. We at Insider Monkey have made an extensive database of more than 835 of those established hedge funds and famous value investors’ filings. In this article, we analyze how these elite funds and prominent investors traded FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) based on those filings.

FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) shares haven’t seen a lot of action during the fourth quarter. Overall, hedge fund sentiment was unchanged. The stock was in 45 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019. At the end of this article we will also compare FDX to other stocks including The Kraft Heinz Company (NASDAQ:KHC), NetEase, Inc (NASDAQ:NTES), and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. (NYSE:MFG) to get a better sense of its popularity.

Hedge funds’ reputation as shrewd investors has been tarnished in the last decade as their hedged returns couldn’t keep up with the unhedged returns of the market indices. Our research has shown that hedge funds’ small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of outperformance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 41 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that underperformed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of underperformance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.

Mason Hawkins of Southeastern Asset Management

We leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example, we believe electric vehicles and energy storage are set to become giant markets, and we want to take advantage of the declining lithium prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So we are checking out investment opportunities like this one. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. Our best call in 2020 was shorting the market when S&P 500 was trading at 3150 after realizing the coronavirus pandemic’s significance before most investors. With all of this in mind let’s go over the recent hedge fund action surrounding FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX).

What have hedge funds been doing with FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX)?

At Q4’s end, a total of 45 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of 0% from the previous quarter. On the other hand, there were a total of 41 hedge funds with a bullish position in FDX a year ago. With the smart money’s capital changing hands, there exists a select group of key hedge fund managers who were boosting their stakes significantly (or already accumulated large positions).

Is FDX A Good Stock To Buy?

Among these funds, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust held the most valuable stake in FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX), which was worth $457.4 million at the end of the third quarter. On the second spot was Southeastern Asset Management which amassed $367.4 million worth of shares. Citadel Investment Group, ValueAct Capital, and Millennium Management were also very fond of the stock, becoming one of the largest hedge fund holders of the company. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Southeastern Asset Management allocated the biggest weight to FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX), around 6.12% of its 13F portfolio. 12th Street Asset Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, dishing out 3.47 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to FDX.

Seeing as FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) has witnessed declining sentiment from hedge fund managers, it’s easy to see that there lies a certain “tier” of fund managers who were dropping their positions entirely in the third quarter. Interestingly, Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke and John Campbell’s Arrowstreet Capital said goodbye to the largest position of the “upper crust” of funds watched by Insider Monkey, comprising an estimated $27.1 million in stock, and Benjamin A. Smith’s Laurion Capital Management was right behind this move, as the fund sold off about $26.6 million worth. These moves are interesting, as aggregate hedge fund interest stayed the same (this is a bearish signal in our experience).

Let’s check out hedge fund activity in other stocks – not necessarily in the same industry as FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) but similarly valued. These stocks are The Kraft Heinz Company (NASDAQ:KHC), NetEase, Inc (NASDAQ:NTES), Mizuho Financial Group Inc. (NYSE:MFG), and Eaton Corporation plc (NYSE:ETN). All of these stocks’ market caps match FDX’s market cap.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
KHC 34 10747172 -5
NTES 44 3818274 12
MFG 5 15118 1
ETN 42 1224237 8
Average 31.25 3951200 4

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 31.25 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $3951 million. That figure was $1481 million in FDX’s case. NetEase, Inc (NASDAQ:NTES) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Mizuho Financial Group Inc. (NYSE:MFG) is the least popular one with only 5 bullish hedge fund positions. Compared to these stocks FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) is more popular among hedge funds. Our calculations showed that top 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 41.4% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10.1 percentage points. These stocks gained 1.0% in 2020 through May 1st and still beat the market by 12.9 percentage points. Unfortunately FDX wasn’t nearly as popular as these 10 stocks and hedge funds that were betting on FDX were disappointed as the stock returned -21.4% during the four months of 2020 (through May 1st) and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds as most of these stocks already outperformed the market in 2020.
5 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds
Video: Click the image to watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

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

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