Is Rio Tinto Group (RIO) Going to Burn These Hedge Funds?

Many prominent investors, including Warren Buffett, David Tepper and Stan Druckenmiller, have been cautious regarding the current bull market and missed out as the stock market reached another high in recent weeks. On the other hand, technology hedge funds weren't timid and registered double digit market beating gains. Financials, energy and industrial stocks initially suffered the most but many of these stocks delivered strong returns since November and hedge funds actually increased their positions in these stocks. In this article we will find out how hedge fund sentiment towards Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) changed recently.

Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) was in 25 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of March. The all time high for this statistic is 26. RIO has seen a decrease in hedge fund interest in recent months. There were 26 hedge funds in our database with RIO holdings at the end of December. Our calculations also showed that RIO isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q1 rankings).

Hedge funds' reputation as shrewd investors has been tarnished in the last decade as their hedged returns couldn't keep up with the unhedged returns of the market indices. Hedge funds have more than $3.5 trillion in assets under management, so you can't expect their entire portfolios to beat the market by large margins. Our research was able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by more than 115 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). So you can still find a lot of gems by following hedge funds' moves today.

Ken Fisher FISHER ASSET MANAGEMENTKen Fisher FISHER ASSET MANAGEMENT
Ken Fisher FISHER ASSET MANAGEMENT

Ken Fisher of Fisher Asset Management

At Insider Monkey, we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, economists warn of inflation flare up. So, we are checking out this backdoor gold play that has hit peak gains of 718% in a little over a year. 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. Now let's take a peek at the key hedge fund action surrounding Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO).

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

At Q1's end, a total of 25 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of -4% from the fourth quarter of 2020. The graph below displays the number of hedge funds with bullish position in RIO over the last 23 quarters. With hedgies' positions undergoing their usual ebb and flow, there exists an "upper tier" of notable hedge fund managers who were increasing their holdings significantly (or already accumulated large positions).

More specifically, Fisher Asset Management was the largest shareholder of Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO), with a stake worth $971.9 million reported as of the end of March. Trailing Fisher Asset Management was Arrowstreet Capital, which amassed a stake valued at $285.7 million. Impala Asset Management, Masters Capital Management, and Impala 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 Impala Asset Management allocated the biggest weight to Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO), around 5.92% of its 13F portfolio. Impala Asset Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, dishing out 4.68 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to RIO.

Judging by the fact that Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) has witnessed falling interest from the smart money, logic holds that there was a specific group of funds that slashed their full holdings heading into Q2. Intriguingly, Josh Donfeld and David Rogers's Castle Hook Partners sold off the biggest investment of all the hedgies monitored by Insider Monkey, totaling about $16.6 million in stock. Andrew Sandler's fund, Sandler Capital Management, also dropped its stock, about $16.5 million worth. These transactions are intriguing to say the least, as total hedge fund interest fell by 1 funds heading into Q2.

Let's now review hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO). We will take a look at Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY), The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE:SCHW), Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT), TOTAL S.A. (NYSE:TOT), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HSBC), and The Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE:TD). This group of stocks' market valuations match RIO's market valuation.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position SNY,15,1142178,0 SCHW,76,4905041,15 AMAT,78,5711193,17 TOT,17,1163601,3 IBM,41,1355701,-10 HSBC,12,234093,-2 TD,19,212935,-3 Average,36.9,2103535,2.9 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 36.9 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $2104 million. That figure was $1597 million in RIO's case. Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HSBC) is the least popular one with only 12 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 42.7. 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. 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 July 9th and beat the market by 6.7 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on RIO, though not to the same extent, as the stock returned 10.7% since the end of Q1 (through July 9th) and outperformed the market.

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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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