Hedge Funds Are Souring On Rio Tinto Group (RIO)

In this article we will take a look at whether hedge funds think Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) is a good investment right now. We check hedge fund and billionaire investor sentiment before delving into hours of research. Hedge funds spend millions of dollars on Ivy League graduates, unconventional data sources, expert networks, and get tips from investment bankers and industry insiders. Sure they sometimes fail miserably, but their consensus stock picks historically outperformed the market after adjusting for known risk factors.

Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) investors should be aware of a decrease in enthusiasm from smart money of late. Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) was in 21 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of the second quarter of 2021. The all time high for this statistic is 26. There were 25 hedge funds in our database with RIO positions at the end of the first quarter. Our calculations also showed that RIO isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q2 rankings).

Why do we pay any attention at all to hedge fund sentiment? Our research has shown that a select group of hedge fund holdings outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 79 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). That's why we believe hedge fund sentiment is an extremely useful indicator that investors should pay attention to.

best defensive stocks to buy according to ken fisherbest defensive stocks to buy according to ken fisher
best defensive stocks to buy according to ken fisher

Ken Fisher of Fisher Asset Management

At Insider Monkey, we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, lithium mining is one of the fastest growing industries right now, so we are checking out stock pitches like this emerging lithium stock. We go through lists like the 10 best EV 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. With all of this in mind we're going to take a look at the latest hedge fund action regarding Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO).

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

At the end of June, a total of 21 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey held long positions in this stock, a change of -16% from one quarter earlier. On the other hand, there were a total of 20 hedge funds with a bullish position in RIO a year ago. With hedgies' sentiment swirling, there exists a few noteworthy hedge fund managers who were adding to their stakes considerably (or already accumulated large positions).

Is RIO A Good Stock To Buy?Is RIO A Good Stock To Buy?
Is RIO A Good Stock To Buy?

Among these funds, Fisher Asset Management held the most valuable stake in Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO), which was worth $1084.4 million at the end of the second quarter. On the second spot was Arrowstreet Capital which amassed $156.8 million worth of shares. Masters Capital Management, Impala Asset Management, and Citadel Investment Group 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 Impala Asset Management allocated the biggest weight to Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO), around 5.06% of its 13F portfolio. Impala Asset Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, dishing out 3.24 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to RIO.

Judging by the fact that Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) has experienced falling interest from hedge fund managers, it's safe to say that there is a sect of money managers that slashed their positions entirely in the second quarter. At the top of the heap, Ken Heebner's Capital Growth Management dumped the biggest investment of all the hedgies monitored by Insider Monkey, valued at close to $23.3 million in stock, and Benjamin A. Smith's Laurion Capital Management was right behind this move, as the fund said goodbye to about $23.3 million worth. These transactions are important to note, as total hedge fund interest fell by 4 funds in the second quarter.

Let's now review hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO). We will take a look at HDFC Bank Limited (NYSE:HDB), Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU), BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK), American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), Sanofi (NYSE:SNY), and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM). This group of stocks' market caps are similar to RIO's market cap.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position HDB,39,1731917,12 INTU,66,5382791,-2 BLK,47,1282801,5 AXP,52,28660485,-1 SBUX,63,4757968,2 SNY,16,1261299,1 IBM,41,1373521,0 Average,46.3,6350112,2.4 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 46.3 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $6350 million. That figure was $1420 million in RIO's case. Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) is the least popular one with only 16 bullish hedge fund positions. Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for RIO is 30.2. 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 negative signal and 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 24% in 2021 through October 22nd and surpassed the market again by 1.6 percentage points. Unfortunately RIO wasn't nearly as popular as these 5 stocks (hedge fund sentiment was quite bearish); RIO investors were disappointed as the stock returned -19.7% since the end of June (through 10/22) 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 most of these stocks already outperformed the market in 2021.

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

By Matt Earle

Matthew Earle is the Founder of MiningFeeds. In 2005, Matt founded MiningNerds.com to provide data and information to the mining investment community. This site was merged with Highgrade Review to form MiningFeeds. Matt has a B.Sc. degree with a minor in geology from the University of Toronto.

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