With Brexit Looming, Hedge Funds Weigh In On British Stocks

GlaxoSmithKline Is Liked By Several Big Funds

GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) counted 28 hedge fund supporters – among those we track- at the end of the first quarter. Interestingly, the second-largest stake held by an institutional investor of record, only trailing FMR LLC, was the one reported by billionaire Ken Fisher’s Fisher Asset Management, which declared ownership of 11.65 million shares, worth almost $500 million as of March 31. Other notable investors included John Osterweis’ Osterweis Capital Management, which held 1.94 million shares, and James E. Flynn’s Deerfield Management, with 1.67 million shares. Shares of GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK), which were quite volatile over the first quarter, are have inched up by over 1% year-to-date. Very recently, the company announced it was rolling out a modern HIV drug in Botswana, after the largest-ever tender secured by its HIV business in Africa. According to the agreement, GlaxoSmithKline will deliver 1.6 million packs of the HIV treatment Tivicay to Botswana through ViiV Healthcare, a company that is majority-owned by the British firm.

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Rio Tinto Sees Hedge Fund Support Rise By 50%

Next up is Rio Tinto plc (ADR) (NYSE:RIO), which hedge funds that we track were particularly bullish on. The company saw the number of funds long the stock surge by 50% to 24 during the first quarter. Nonetheless, same as in all of the cases above, their combined ownership could not surpass 1% of the float, standing at about 0.5%. The largest new position was opened by Robert Bishop’s Impala Asset Management, which acquired 2.99 million shares of the mining company, holding $84.6 million in stock by March 31. Recently, Citigroup has upgraded its rating on the stock to ‘Neutral’ from ‘Sell’, citing an improved earnings outlook, helped by surging iron ore prices.

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Shire, Most Popular UK Stock

Finally, there’s Shire PLC (ADR) (NASDAQ:SHPG) the most popular stock in this list, with 49 investors holding stakes at the end of March, up from 40 a quarter earlier. These stakes, valued at more than $2.5 billion on March 31, accounted for almost 1/3 of the company’s outstanding stock. Among the largest stockholders were John Paulson’s Paulson & Co, with 7.07 million shares worth over $1.2 billion, and Arrowstreet Capital, run by Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke and John Campbell, which disclosed ownership of 526,768 ADRs of Shire PLC as of March 31. As with many biotech stocks, Shire PLC (ADR) (NASDAQ:SHPG) had a rough first quarter, losing 16.15% of its value during the period. Nonetheless, the shares have performed better since April 1 and have inched up by more than 3%. Over a week ago, the company announced that it had completed its merger with Baxalta Inc (NYSE:BXLT), creating a company with a presence in over 100 countries, more than 22,000 employees, and projected sales of more than $20 billion by 2020.

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Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no positions in any of the securities mentioned above.