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Why Are These Stocks Among Today’s Losers?

This week’s roller coaster is coming to and end with a bang, as U.S. stocks are deep in the red territory and the Dow is down by triple digits. Biotechnology and trucking stocks are among the biggest losers today and in this article we’ll take a look at the reasons behind their slump. Therefore, let’s find out why SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY), Heartland Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:HTLD), Werner Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ:WERN), Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT), and Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARIA) are trending lower 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.

Biotechnology stocks are deep in red this morning, dragging down the likes of Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) and Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARIA). Earlier this week, Intercept staged a rally on rumors that the company might be acquired by Shire PLC (ADR) (NASDAQ:SHPG). Whether because interest has cooled off or investors are cashing in on gains, the stock opened 8% lower today. Shares of Ariad Pharmaceuticals are also in the red, despite news that Paris Panayiotopoulos was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer by the company’s board of directors. Panayiotopoulos was elected unanimously and is set to take over from January 1, 2016. He previously headed EMD Serono, Inc., a division of Merck KGaA.

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Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) lost some of its appeal during the third quarter, as the number of hedge funds invested in the company (among those we track) dropped to 18 from 24 a quarter earlier. Samuel Isaly is betting big on the stock, having pledged nearly 2% of his portfolio to this investment. In its latest 13F filing, Isaly’s Orbimed Advisors reported ownership of 1.12 million shares worth $185 million.

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The popularity of Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARIA) has also been sliding over the quarter, with 29 elite funds reporting long positions as of the end of September, down from 31 at the end of June. According to our database, Alex Denner’s Sarissa Capital Management has the largest position in this stock, holding 12.8 million shares valued at $75 million.

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