Were Hedge Funds Right About BHP Group (BHP)?

In this article you are going to find out whether hedge funds think BHP Group (NYSE:BHP) is a good investment right now. We like to check what the smart money thinks first before doing extensive research on a given stock. Although there have been several high profile failed hedge fund picks, the consensus picks among hedge fund investors have historically outperformed the market after adjusting for known risk attributes. It's not surprising given that hedge funds have access to better information and more resources to predict the winners in the stock market.

Is BHP Group (NYSE:BHP) a first-rate investment now? Investors who are in the know were reducing their bets on the stock. The number of long hedge fund bets fell by 2 in recent months. BHP Group (NYSE:BHP) was in 18 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of March. The all time high for this statistic is 24. Our calculations also showed that BHP isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q1 rankings). There were 20 hedge funds in our database with BHP positions at the end of the fourth quarter.

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. Our research has shown that hedge funds' small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of outperformance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 115 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that underperformed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of underperformance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.

Michael Hintze CQS CaymanMichael Hintze CQS Cayman
Michael Hintze CQS Cayman

At Insider Monkey, we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, pet market is growing at a 7% annual rate and is expected to reach $110 billion in 2021. So, we are checking out the 5 best stocks for animal lovers. We go through lists like the 15 best Jim Cramer stocks to identify the next Tesla that will deliver outsized returns. 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 check out the latest hedge fund action encompassing BHP Group (NYSE:BHP).

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

At the end of March, a total of 18 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of -10% from the previous quarter. On the other hand, there were a total of 18 hedge funds with a bullish position in BHP a year ago. So, let's see which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

Is BHP A Good Stock To Buy?Is BHP A Good Stock To Buy?
Is BHP A Good Stock To Buy?

More specifically, Fisher Asset Management was the largest shareholder of BHP Group (NYSE:BHP), with a stake worth $553.8 million reported as of the end of March. Trailing Fisher Asset Management was Arrowstreet Capital, which amassed a stake valued at $114.3 million. Renaissance Technologies, CQS Cayman LP, 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 CQS Cayman LP allocated the biggest weight to BHP Group (NYSE:BHP), around 2.79% of its 13F portfolio. Hourglass Capital is also relatively very bullish on the stock, earmarking 1.58 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to BHP.

Due to the fact that BHP Group (NYSE:BHP) has witnessed declining sentiment from hedge fund managers, logic holds that there was a specific group of money managers who were dropping their positions entirely heading into Q2. Intriguingly, Simon Sadler's Segantii Capital dumped the largest position of all the hedgies watched by Insider Monkey, valued at close to $49.4 million in stock, and Ben Levine, Andrew Manuel and Stefan Renold's LMR Partners was right behind this move, as the fund dumped about $24.7 million worth. These moves are important to note, as aggregate hedge fund interest dropped by 2 funds heading into Q2.

Let's also examine hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to BHP Group (NYSE:BHP). These stocks are McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD), Pinduoduo Inc. (NASDAQ:PDD), Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), Danaher Corporation (NYSE:DHR), Medtronic plc (NYSE:MDT), Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE:NVO), and Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST). This group of stocks' market values are closest to BHP's market value.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position MCD,67,3783829,5 PDD,56,6293871,2 WFC,96,7454581,-3 DHR,81,5796963,0 MDT,65,3627546,6 NVO,23,2929727,0 COST,56,4014769,-5 Average,63.4,4843041,0.7 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 63.4 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $4843 million. That figure was $874 million in BHP's case. Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE:NVO) is the least popular one with only 23 bullish hedge fund positions. Compared to these stocks BHP Group (NYSE:BHP) is even less popular than NVO. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for BHP is 25.5. 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. Hedge funds dodged a bullet by taking a bearish stance towards BHP. Our calculations showed that the top 10 most popular hedge fund stocks returned 95.8% in 2019 and 2020, and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 40 percentage points. These stocks gained 28.5% in 2021 through July 23rd but managed to beat the market again by 10.1 percentage points. Unfortunately BHP wasn't nearly as popular as these 5 stocks (hedge fund sentiment was very bearish); BHP investors were disappointed as the stock returned 10.1% since the end of the first quarter (through 7/23) 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 since 2019.

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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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