Where Do Hedge Funds Stand On Associated Banc Corp (ASB)?

The financial regulations require hedge funds and wealthy investors that exceeded the $100 million 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 March 31st. We at Insider Monkey have made an extensive database of more than 866 of those established hedge funds and famous value investors’ filings. In this article, we analyze how these elite funds and prominent investors traded Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB) based on those filings.

Is Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB) a healthy stock for your portfolio? The best stock pickers were becoming hopeful. The number of long hedge fund bets rose by 2 lately. Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB) was in 24 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of March. The all time high for this statistic is 24. This means the bullish number of hedge fund positions in this stock currently sits at its all time high. Our calculations also showed that ASB isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q1 rankings). There were 22 hedge funds in our database with ASB holdings at the end of December.

In today’s marketplace there are a lot of gauges market participants employ to analyze publicly traded companies. A duo of the less utilized gauges are hedge fund and insider trading indicators. We have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the top hedge fund managers can beat the S&P 500 by a superb margin (see the details here). Also, our monthly newsletter’s portfolio of long stock picks returned 206.8% since March 2017 (through May 2021) and beat the S&P 500 Index by more than 115 percentage points. You can download a sample issue of this newsletter on our website .

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At Insider Monkey, we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, Chuck Schumer recently stated that marijuana legalization will be a Senate priority. So, we are checking out this under the radar stock that will benefit from this. We go through lists like the 10 best battery stocks to pick the next Tesla that will deliver a 10x return. 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 homepage. Keeping this in mind we’re going to analyze the fresh hedge fund action surrounding Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB).

Do Hedge Funds Think ASB Is A Good Stock To Buy Now?

At first quarter’s end, a total of 24 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of 9% from the previous quarter. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in ASB over the last 23 quarters. So, let’s examine which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

More specifically, Pzena Investment Management was the largest shareholder of Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB), with a stake worth $80 million reported as of the end of March. Trailing Pzena Investment Management was AQR Capital Management, which amassed a stake valued at $70.2 million. Millennium Management, Arrowstreet Capital, and Fisher Asset 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 Pzena Investment Management allocated the biggest weight to Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB), around 0.32% of its 13F portfolio. Quantinno Capital is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 0.29 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to ASB.

As aggregate interest increased, specific money managers were leading the bulls’ herd. Centiva Capital, managed by Karim Abbadi and Edward McBride, created the most outsized position in Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB). Centiva Capital had $0.9 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Qing Li’s Sciencast Management also initiated a $0.6 million position during the quarter. The other funds with new positions in the stock are Ben Levine, Andrew Manuel and Stefan Renold’s LMR Partners, Mika Toikka’s AlphaCrest Capital Management, and Lee Ainslie’s Maverick Capital.

Let’s check out hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB). We will take a look at GrafTech International Ltd. (NYSE:EAF), Compania Cervecerias Unidas S.A. (NYSE:CCU), MakeMyTrip Limited (NASDAQ:MMYT), Berkeley Lights, Inc. (NASDAQ:BLI), Fluor Corporation (NYSE:FLR), Apple Hospitality REIT Inc (NYSE:APLE), and Casella Waste Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CWST). This group of stocks’ market valuations are similar to ASB’s market valuation.

Ticker No of HFs with positions Total Value of HF Positions (x1000) Change in HF Position
EAF 38 416723 6
CCU 7 22493 -1
MMYT 9 49170 2
BLI 16 410653 0
FLR 17 199311 -3
APLE 17 203355 1
CWST 20 107302 1
Average 17.7 201287 0.9

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 17.7 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $201 million. That figure was $221 million in ASB’s case. GrafTech International Ltd. (NYSE:EAF) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Compania Cervecerias Unidas S.A. (NYSE:CCU) is the least popular one with only 7 bullish hedge fund positions. Associated Banc Corp (NYSE:ASB) is not the most popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still above average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for ASB is 64.4. 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. This is a slightly positive signal but we’d rather spend our time researching stocks that hedge funds are piling on. Our calculations showed that top 5 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 95.8% in 2019 and 2020, and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 40 percentage points. These stocks gained 23.8% in 2021 through July 16th and beat the market again by 7.7 percentage points. Unfortunately ASB wasn’t nearly as popular as these 5 stocks and hedge funds that were betting on ASB were disappointed as the stock returned -8.3% since the end of March (through 7/16) and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 5 most popular stocks among hedge funds as many of these stocks already outperformed the market since 2019.

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