Why Merck, Whole Foods Market & Other Stocks Are in Spotlight Today?

The US Stock market is trading higher on Thursday, helped by a 3% growth in Brent and WTI. Meanwhile, the earnings season is still in progress and among the companies that have posted their results are Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM)AmerisourceBergen Corp. (NYSE:ABC)Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ:KHC), and Tripadvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP). In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the results of these companies and see if the smart money investors have been bullish on them.

We assess the hedge fund sentiment by looking at the equity portfolios of nearly 800 hedge funds and other institutional investors in our database. Aside from identifying how these investors position themselves towards different stocks, we use the data to find the small-cap stocks that these investors are most bullish on and use these stocks to model our strategy (see more details here).

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)’s stock is almost 2% in the red, after the company posted first-quarter EPS of $0.89, which beat the estimates of $0.85, but the revenue of $9.31 billion was lower than the expected $9.46 billion. The company’s sales were affected by the advancement of competing generic drugs and currency fluctuations. For the full year, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) expects earnings per share in the range of $3.60 to $3.77, versus the previous forecast of $3.60 to $3.75, while revenue guidance is between $39 billion and $40.2 billion, compared to the previous range of $38.7 billion to $40.2 billion. Among the funds we track, 70 reported long positions in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) heading into 2016, up by eight on the quarter.

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Let’s head to Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM), whose shares are nearly 5% in the green on the back of the company beating the bottom line estimates. The grocer reported adjusted earnings of $0.44 per share on revenue of $3.70 billion, which compares with analysts’ estimates of $0.41 and $3.74 billion, respectively. However, Whole Foods Market had a comparable store sales decline of 3%, higher than the expected fall of 2%. During the fourth quarter, the number of funds bullish on Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) slid by eight to 25 and the largest stake was reported by billionaire David E. Shaw‘s D. E. Shaw & Co., which owned 2.53 million shares.

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On the next page, we are going to discuss the results posted by AmerisourceBergen, Kraft Heinz Co and Tripadvisor.