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EU Short Disclosure
November 8, 2021

In this space, we've pointed out how EU short interest seems to gravitate toward telecoms, delivery services and consumer cyclicals. Today, we'd like to take a different tack: While some hedge funds are shorting scores or even hundreds of names, what about the ones that are reporting short interest on only one?

Kensico Capital Management  maintains a bearish position on Danish medtech name Ambu. While Kensico missed a steep rise in the stock price over the past year, it also missed the cliff Ambu fell off this past May. Meantime, Maple Rock Capital Partners doubled down on its short interest in German silicon wafer maker Siltronic -- while its stock price pretty much doubled up.

In the case of Omni Partners and Tudor Capital, it's Just Eat Takeaway, as reported here previously.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
November 4, 2021

The two big convertible arbitrage plays in the first part of this year were real estate platform Zillow and social game publisher Zynga. The strategy involves buying the bonds while short-selling the stocks, so it's worth following up to see if the arbitrageurs' bearish positions were warranted.

In a word, yes. As we await the next round of 13-F filings we see that, at the end of May, 72% of Tenor Capital Management's exposure was to Zynga while a similar proportion of of SSI Investment Management's was to Zillow. Castle Creek Arbitrage, which added the most alpha of an convertible arbitrage shop, followed Tenor's lead, placing 29% of its eggs in the Zynga's FarmVille.

Still, Liden Advisors went to 80% exposure on Zynga but didn't experience the alpha pop that its competitors realized. Meantime, Basso Capital Management showed some solid performance without excessive exposure to any single name.

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EU Short Disclosure
November 1, 2021

Just Eat Takeaway, the Dutch parent of Grubhub and a bunch of other delivery services, is struggling to make its case to fund managers after missing earnings targets earlier this year. But it's trying. According to Novus's analysis of European short disclosure filings, it's among the names with the most covered shorts in September. It has the lowest passive difference and the second-highest -- after Cellnex Telecom -- active difference.

The funds with the largest European short exposure don't seem to care much about it Just Eat Takeaway, but others seem to have their doubts. It is Arrowstreet Capital's most-shorted name, although the position hasn't changed any over the past year. BlackRock Advisors is a little less bearish now than it was 12 months ago. Tudor Capital is shorting only one stock at the moment, and Just Eat Takeaway is it.

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Novus 4C Indices
October 22, 2021

Among the Novus 4Cs Indices, Concentration had been a laggard for a couple years. No more.

While the full story of 2021 is yet to be written, it's fair to say that Concentration is uncharacteristically leading the other three Cs in price-to-earnings terms. After a couple years in the mid-20s, the index's P/E is suddenly at 70.51x.

If there's a sweetheart stock in this portfolio, it would be Integral Ad Science Holding Corp., a small-cap digital advertising verification firm. Shortly after its red herring period, it has attracted 33 hedge fund owners and, so far, it doesn't look like anyone has exited or even sold.

The Concentration Index, which tracks stocks with the highest percentage of shares held by hedge funds, includes companies in which the hedge fund community might have the greatest control and, thus, serves as a proxy for activist interests.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
October 22, 2021

Crude oil prices more than doubled in the trailing 12 months, yet hedge fund interest in the Energy sector has barely budged, inching up from 1.95% of the universe's exposure to 2.84%.

While Exxon Mobil has the largest number of funds invested, it now has more sellers than buyers. Chevron might soon be fund managers' favorite oil stock.

But the one name here to keep an eye on is Ovintiv, a Canadian-American exploration and distribution company. With barely 3% of Exxon's market cap, it has attracted 14 new buyers to only three exits as of the most recent round of 13-F filings, and 23 buys to 12 sells. And, with hedge funds owning 13.76% of the float, fund managers' opinions are going to matter more to Ovintiv's executives than to executives at some of the deeper wells.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
October 14, 2021

You can't make everybody happy, especially in this business -- or can you? Two SPACs share a rare distinction: They are among the most widely held micro-cap names in the hedge fund universe, and nobody's exiting, selling or even holding.

B. Riley Principal 250 Merger Corp., the largest shareholder of check casher Sphinx Trading, has 30 buyers.

TCW Special Purpose Acquisition Corp., which has 27 buyers, is more opaque about any purchases it has in the pipeline. It also has another class of stock -- STPQ.U as opposed to STPQ -- which tells a different story. This alternate class, with 32 owners and 28 exits, shows considerably less consensus.

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EU Short Disclosure
October 14, 2021

While many hedge funds have backed off short positions in Europe over the past 12 months, only Sylebra Capital Management has done so by double digits. In has unwound these to the tune of 10.67 percentage points.

The biggest part of that move was a reduction of short interest in Blue Prism Group, an once-oversold name which rallied at the end of August. Sylebra still has a -3.49% exposure there, but that's dwarfed by October 2020's -11.16%. The fund is also marginally less bearish on Oesterreich Post.

Meantime, D1 Capital Partners has eased its shorts on Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Pearson. Carmignac Gestion has taken a scattershot approach to unwinding its short positions.

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EU Short Disclosure
October 8, 2021

Three sectors account for fully half of all hedge funds' short positions in Europe, according to regulatory filings. Consumer Discretionary, Industrials and Communication Services comprise 49% of short interest.

Transportation systems maker Alstom is the most-shorted Industrial name, with 1.74% of its float shorted. In the Comms space, Vodaphone Group and Cellnex Telecom had -3.74% and -3.14% of their shares shorted at the end of August. While Vodaphone had the most uncovered short interest of any company in Europe, Cellnex saw a -107.98 bp one-month slide.

Things aren't quite so bad for any individual Consumer Discretionary position, although tire maker Michelin has the dubious distinction of leading these cyclicals with -0.81% short interest.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
October 8, 2021

The hedge fund universe took the March 2020 apocalypse as a signal to get out of Industrials. In one month, exposure to the sector shrank from 10.72% to 9.58%, then the slide continued through July 2020, when it bottomed out at 8.70%. It hasn't exactly come roaring back but slowly, incrementally, and not without a little backsliding, Industrials has regained some of its appeal and now stands at 9.49% of hedgies' combined portfolio, significantly higher than the broader market's 8.93%.

Within the sector, the top position is Uber Technologies, which is close enough to being a Tech company that it's almost cheating. Uber is the only large-cap on the mainly mid-cap list of the 15 Industrials with the largest number of hedge funds invested. It also in rare territory with 62 buyers to 40 sellers over the course of the last reporting cycle. The only one comparable in terms of this ratio is Caterpillar, with 33 buyers to 21 sellers.

Meantime, hedge fund interest appears to be waning for General Electric, FedEx, Lockheed Martin, United Parcel Service and Raytheon even as it strengthens for the sector at large.

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Manager League Tables
September 27, 2021

It's no easier to outperform a robust market than a flat or negative one. Look at Europe. While share prices there have broadly risen over the past 12 months, hedge fund managers have struggled to surpass that growth.

Farringdon Capital Management, though, seems to have unlocked the secret. With long holdings in Westwing Group and Pendragon, almost two-thirds of its exposure is to the Consumer Durables sector. Permian Investment Partners, meantime, is placing its bets on Energy, while CapeView Capital takes a more diversified approach, although both these sectors figure prominently in its portfolio.

And as far as Europe-focused funds with positive alpha at the moment, that's the end of the list.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
September 27, 2021

Hedge funds don't invest in microcaps much and, when they do, it's more likely to be a SPAC than an active company. Yet 16% of funds that are exposed to any microcaps are betting on this one: Immersion. Three times as many hedgies have bought rather than sold recently, according to the most recent 13-Fs.

The San Francisco-based enterprise makes software for virtual and augmented reality gloves, allowing users to "feel" the Matrix as well as see and hear it. Immersion's IMMR stock trades on the Nasdaq -- quite spikily. It has a demonstrated potential of trading above $16 per share but is currently in the $7-$8 doldrums.

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Manager League Tables
September 21, 2021

Novus tracks more than a hundred hedge funds considered to be multi-strategy and diversified. While this lack of commitment to a single strategy might sound a little disjointed, it certainly takes away the manager's excuse that a declining asset class or contrary interest rate trends or an unanticipated swing in forex markets are to blame for a bad quarter. So we salute the brave fund managers who chart this course -- particularly the nine who added more than a full percentage point of alpha with their nimbleness.

At the top of the league table is Samuel Martini's OCO Capital Partners, with a gaudy 4,176 bps of annualized alpha to its credit. OCO's largest holdings, according to SEC filings, are retirement home operator Athene Holding, subprime lender Curo Group and mortgage lender Mr Cooper Group. Athene, at $13 billion in market cap, is an order of magnitude larger than the other two.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
September 21, 2021

Five sectors -- Consumer Staples, Energy, Materials, Real Estate and Utilities -- have been overlooked by hedgies for at least five years, and generally with good reason. But that's not to say there aren't gems to be mined in those shafts.

To take one example from each, consider Darling Ingredients, Ovintiv, Ecolab, Simon Property Group and NiSource. These have all attracted more buys than sells over the past 13-F season, and more new owners than exits. Four out of five of these names -- which range from $7 billion to $63 billion in market cap -- performed well year-to-date. The exception is spiky the Materials sector's Ecolab, which has had an awful September so far.

Honorable mentions go to Colgate-Palmolive, Chevron, Linde, American Homes 4 Rent and Consolidated Edison.

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Hedge Funds & ESG
September 15, 2021

The billionaires who are leaving Earth might know something the rest of us don't.

At least, that's one conclusion that could be gleaned from Novus's Hedge Funds & ESG dashboard. Top hedge fund managers have less exposure than the broader market to companies with AAA, AA, A and BBB ratings for environmental, social and governance concerns. They have greater exposure to names rated BB, B and CCC.

We're not saying that hedge fund managers might be squeezing every last dollar out of the planet and investing it in rocket ships to take them to more pristine one, but we understand how one might get that idea.

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EU Short Disclosure
September 15, 2021

Some of the hedge fund universe's brightest stars are avoiding Europe like a black hole, according to short disclosure documents.

Tiger Global Management has doubled down on its negative position on Germany's HelloFresh meal kit company. And it looks like when you put Black Rock together with Blue Prism, all you get is black-and-blue.

The biggest Euroskeptic at the moment, though, is Citadel Investment Group. It's shorting such familiar names as BAE Systems and Michelin, but has a particular dim view of Delivery Hero, a German online food-delivery service.

With those moves against HelloFresh and Delivery Hero, we can only presume that Germans are expected to cook less and eat out more. And just in time for Oktoberfest!

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Hedge Fund Ownership
September 7, 2021

There's seems to be a shortage of original thinking in the hedge fund universe, as evidenced by the growing reliance on the biggest names on the biggest exchanges. Since October 2020, exposure to mega-caps has grown from 41.14% to 46.20%. As recently as five years ago, that number was below 30%. And really, does anyone need a portfolio manager to pick out Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook?

This crowding out comes at the expense of all other market cap ranges: large, mid, small and micro. Among large-caps, Expedia leads the class with 108 hedge funds owners, while mid-cap Lithia Motors has 78, small-cap Cohn Robbins has 64 and micro-cap ABG Acquisition Corp. has 38. Compare that with Amazon's 385 and you get the picture. In fact, 67 mega-caps have more hedge fund owners than Expedia.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
September 7, 2021

The handful of players adhering to the Relative Value Arbitrage strategy have one thing in common: They all have more assets under management now than they had three months prior. Not a lot of strategy groups can say that.

Relative-value arb takes advantage of price differentials between related financial instruments, such as the stocks and bonds of one company, by  buying and selling the different securities at the same time. Athanor Capital rode that pony to 89.3% AUM growth in one quarter, while Westchester Capital Management, Rivernorth Capital Management and Pinz Capital Management also benefited.

Benefited from what, though? Inflows? Certainly, but that had to follow investment success. Relative Value Arb only works if the values of two securities that ought to correlate don't. Firms like these ought to prosper because they play a valuable role in keeping markets efficient -- but when they're prospering this much, you have to ask: What's going wrong with the market?

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EU Short Disclosure
September 2, 2021

For a small company, LoopUp Group -- market cap of $30 million -- is attracting a lot of (unwelcome) attention. The Zoom-esque software company out of the U.K. holds the dubious distinction of being the best-performing short in the hedge fund universe, according to regulatory filings.

LoopUp is in the Information Technology sector, a favorite of hedge fund managers which accounts for only -17.13% of short exposure. Further, it's a microcap, a class which accounts for only 0.47%. So that's saying a lot.

We've written previously about McPhy Energy, the short magnet LoopUp supplanted, but we should also mention Morphosys. This German biotech is trading near an all-time low, effectively dropping out of the midcap world and into the small-cap.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
September 1, 2021

Hedge fund managers have an above-average taste for Health Care stocks, according to recent regulatory filings. The latest round of 13-F disclosures suggest that, in aggregate, they have a net exposure of 14.20% to the sector, versus the broader market's 12.88%. This partially offsets hedgies' comparative lack of interest in Information Technology.

Specifically, Johnson & Johnson is highly popular, as is UnitedHealth,  both with more than 180 owners within the hedge fund universe.

If you're looking for a couple midcaps that have attracted outsized interest, those names would be slumping healthcare payments platform Signify Health and surging dialysis provider DaVita.

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EU Short Disclosure
August 24, 2021

Hedge funds own more than 20% of Rightmove, a British real estate platform. And yet it seems to have fallen out of favor. While its share price remains near its recent record high, it has attracted more than its share of short interest. That combination of percentage owned by the hedge fund universe and value of short positions make it the most "crowded" short in Europe.

It doesn't appear to be the funds themselves that are shorting it to any great degree, nor are they covering those shorts. Maybe they're just waiting to buy on the dip.

Other crowded shorts include publisher Pearson, oilfield services firm PGS, home furnisher home24 and shared-office host IWG.

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Novus 4C Indices
August 24, 2021

Year in, year out, we're accustomed to seeing the Novus Conviction Index outperform the other 4Cs. Sure, Consensus often came in second-place, but sometimes it was tightly entwined with Concentration and Crowdedness while others it was a notch above. But look what the Novus Consensus Index has been doing year-to-date.

Comprised of the most commonly held stocks by hedge funds, regardless of position size or value invested in each stock, this index measures the movement of crowds. While funds have pared their holdings of Bank of America in recent months, that remains a key part of the Consensus portfolio. Nvidia, which has been ratcheting up fund manager attention lately, is a newcomer to the index. Despite 54 hedge fund exits, Alibaba maintains its seat among the Consensus names.

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Manager League Tables
August 17, 2021

Everyone thinks they're Gordon Gekko, but we rarely encounter anyone who can consistently outperform as an event-driven, activist shareholder. Witness FrontFour Capital Group, which sits atop the activist strategy league table. Its gaudy 7,253.42 bps of annualized three-year alpha is four times that of its closest rival.

But FrontFour -- which is guarded about the composition of its portfolio, although it is generally known to be heavy on real estate and amusement venues -- is drawing a jagged line. Just four months ago, it had -1,963.75 bps of annualized, second-worst on the table. Still, a few of its rivals -- Arex Capital Management, Barington Capital Group, ESL Investments and Osmium Partners -- have had a smoother path to success.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
August 17, 2021

It's not that fund managers are shy about rotating out of Information Technology, Health Care and Consumer Discretionary, they just don't see a compelling case to go anywhere else yet. For years, there's been talk about the rebounding Energy sector, but neither the hedge fund universe nor the broader market is buying. After a half year or more of inching up their Energy holdings, according to 13-F filings, hedge funds have started trimming their exposure again. It's now back down to 2.43%.

Financial Services names account for 12.05% of hedge funds' exposure, a tad above the broader market's. Still, fund managers are backtracking on their holdings in that sector as well. So if funds are reducing their Energy stocks -- which is what you do ahead of a recession -- and they're also reducing their Financials -- which is what you do once an expansion is well underway -- where on the business cycle are we?

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Hedge Fund Ownership
August 14, 2021

In 1805, Napoleon won a decisive victory over the forces of Russia and the Holy Roman Empire on a Czech battlefield known as Austerlitz. As momentous as it was at the time, Austerlitz is remembered now mostly as the surname Fred Astaire was born with. Unless you're investing in SPACs.

In that case, Austerlitz is the latest nom de guerre of financier Bill Foley, who tagged his other interests after Hannibal's pivotal victories from the Second Punic War: Cannae, Trasimene and Trebia. Does Foley possess the strategic brilliance of a Napoleon or Hannibal?

Who knows? But the hedge fund community seems to believe he has more than anyone else today. The small-caps that garnered the most new interest in August are Austerlitz Acquisition Corp. II and Austerlitz Acquisition Corp. I. While Austerlitz I is the acquirer of online casino Wynn Bet, Austerlitz II is still in the red herring phase. It's unclear what Foley is going after and apparently hedge fund managers are prepared to trust his process.

If he ever names a blank check company after Zama or Waterloo, though, you might want to short it.

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Tiger Cubs
August 14, 2021

Tiger cubs -- a closely scrutinized group of managers whose lineage traces to Tiger Management founder Julian Robertson -- have proven that they are in no way an endangered species.

During a 13-month stretch from the start of 2020 through January 2021, the Novus Tiger Portfolio grew 59%, leaving the broader Novus Hedge Fund Universe as well as the iShares S&P 500 Index Fund in its dust. The Tiger cubs also weathered the March 2020 disruption better, suggesting they can play defense as well as offense.

While the cubs' aggregate data is due for an update, the point still holds. Here it is almost eight months later, and neither the hedge funds nor the market are anywhere close to 59%. They're not close to 50%. In fact, both of them round to 41%.

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EU Short Disclosure
August 6, 2021

AstraZeneca (Nasdaq:AZN) holds quite a distinction on Novus's newly updated EU Short Disclosure dashboard: It features the most covered shorts over the past month. That in itself isn't newsworthy; it's the order of magnitude between AstraZeneca and its runner-up that bears mention.

The British pharma company saw a 639.58 bp upside on its way from 6.64% short interest to 0.24%. The silver medalist (sorry -- Olympics are on in the background) is French-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM), which had an otherwise enviable month as its short interest dipped from 2.41% to 1.81%, accompanying a 59.99 bp bump.

Spain's Red Electrica (OTC:RDEIY) utility also ascended the podium.

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Manager Analysis
August 4, 2021

GoldenTree Asset Management garnered headlines recently by reportedly investing in bitcoin, but that's a story for the next round of 13F filings. Meantime, it might be instructive to look at what else it's buying -- and what it's selling.

With roughly $3.8 billion AUM, it's biggest bet in 1Q was increasing its stake in Austrian bank Bawag P.S.K. (OTC:BWAGF), a holding it acquired in a 2012 debt conversion. Meantime, GoldenTree has cut back its positions in Brazilian retailer Via Varejo (OTC:GBXPY) and U.S. student loan purveyor SLM Corp. (Nasdaq:SLM). Overall, it seems to be backing away from growth names and gravitating toward Materials, Energy and Utilities stocks. With the defensive equities portfolio GoldenTree is pursuing, maybe bitcoin is the high-risk, high-return asset it needs.

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Manager League Tables
July 26, 2021

Mergers have been frothy these past few, well, decades, yet alpha from the merger arb strategy remains elusive. Novus tracks 10 firms that invest in stocks of both parties to a merger, and only two of them have positive alpha over the past three years -- and frankly not positive by much. Lesson to be learned: Merger arb is really, really hard.

It's telling that Manikay Partners, leading the field with a whelming 459.22 annualized basis points, has been moribund since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Chesapeake Partners Management, the other marginal winner, shut down even before that.

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Women-Led Funds
July 26, 2021

That headline wouldn't be news in the pages of Bon Appetit, but represents an overlooked trend on Novus's Women-led Funds dashboard.

According to regulatory filings, these funds overwhelmingly limit their exposure to any one name to the 3.5%-5.0% range. Those positions account for 92.3% of their portfolios. Compare that to five and a half years ago, when that proportion was 36.5%. Back then, women-led funds preferred exposures in 5.0%-7.5% range, and a significant amount of positions accounted for more than 10% of portfolios.

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Manager League Tables
July 23, 2021

Novus tracks six real estate-focused hedge funds in its specialization league tables, the largest of which is Long Pond Capital with $3.2 billion in reported market value. And yet Long Pond is dead last -- by a mile -- in terms of annualized alpha. It's essentially giving away 346.77 basis points versus the market.

At the top of that league table is Waterfront Capital Partners, which improves 248.95 bps over the market. No single factor is going to explain why one firm is doing so well in comparison to the market while the other struggles, but we have to consider diversification as one of them. Waterfront's top 10 positions account for only 46.4% of its portfolio, while Long Pond's account for 62.1%

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Hedge Fund Ownership
July 23, 2021

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Change Healthcare (Nasdaq:CHNG), and it's either, "Gimme more!" or "Take it off my hands!" There are few fence sitters in this debate.

According to the Novus Hedge Fund Ownership dashboard, Change attracted 34 new hedge fund owners in the last flight of 13-F filings, while nine others increased their holdings. And yet 20 sold off stakes while 25 exited altogether. Compared with the rest of the mid-cap universe, that's unique. So what gives?

More of a healthcare-focused SaaS provider than an actual turn-your-head-and-cough healing arts concern, its share price surged in the first week of this year and has since drifted down. Although its earnings are improving and Zack's recently put a Buy out on it, its January surge might have gotten a bit ahead of expectations. Its direction remains unclear, so forgive the hedge fund universe if it has partisans on both sides of the debate.

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Hedge Funds & ESG
July 13, 2021

There are three hedge funds -- Ecofin, Marvin & Palmer Associates and Cantillon Capital Management -- that outshine all others in terms of Environmental, Social and Governance metrics. All three seem to be more focused on Social although Ecofin extends that view into Governance.

But do they make any money along the way to saving the world?

Ecofin's exchange-traded fund (NYSE:TEAF) has kept pace with the broader market since the March 2020 shutdown. Marvin & Palmer, meantime, don't seem to have been zeroed in on ESG in particular, but the bets they made in semiconductors and banks seem to be paying off handsomely. Same can be said for Cantillon, which seems to be content to ride its stake in S&P Global (NYSE:SPGI) for all it's worth. Founder William von Mueffling had remarked a few years ago that his long-only strategy wasn't working anymore and that he'd have to try something else. We're unaware if he ever did state what his new game plan is, but ESG might be a good bet for him at this point.

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EU Short Disclosure
July 13, 2021

Hedge funds appear to be more sanguine about the prospects of the Information Technology sector in Europe.

According to disclosure statements, there is significantly less short interest in techs now than there were in the trailing three months -- 15% versus 26%. It appears that Health Care and Consumer Staples are attracting more bearish attention. There is incrementally more short investment in Consumer Discretionary, which remains the sector with the most short interest.

Developed Europe accounts for 64% of shorted names and the United Kingdom for 34%. They are concentrated in the mid-cap and large cap spaces.

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Novus 4C Indices
July 13, 2021

The premier Novus 4C index, Conviction, focuses on how much of their capital a fund manager is willing to bet on one stock. High-conviction stocks tend to be in Communication Services or Information Technology, including the best performers: Sea Ltd. (NYSE:SE), PayPal (Nasdaq:PYPL) and Alphabet (Nasdaq:GOOG).

Over the past two decades, the Novus Conviction Index has far exceeded U.S. and world stocks, and this outperformance is reflected in its reward-to-variability metrics. Regardless of how you measure risk-adjusted returns, Novus Conviction will impress with a Sharpe ratio of 0.40 compared to the MSCI World Index Fund's 0.27 and a gaudy Sortino ratio of 0.74 compared to MSCI's 0.41.

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Novus 4C Indices
July 9, 2021

It's wise to keep a close eye on crowdedness -- a quality that companies exude when their shares are at once popular and illiquid. This is often where the hidden gems are.

According to the Novus 4C indices, three of these names have garnered particular attention in the hedge fund universe: West Fraser Timber (NYSE:WFG), Boliden (London:OYAL) and APi Group (NYSE:APG). A Canadian timber company, Swedish mining company and American construction company respectively, perhaps the most interesting thing about them is how boring they are. At the moment, the big money is betting on Information Technology, Health Care and Financials, but West Fraser and Boliden are in Materials while APi is in Industrials. Could this be a hint at where funds will flow when the inevitable rotation occurs?

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Manager League Tables
July 9, 2021

There's a general perception that equity funds with a bias for long positions account for so much of the hedge fund universe because, well, it's the easiest to understand. It's a simple case of buy low/sell high. Be that as it may, it's also where a lot of the alpha is.

Late-stage VC investor Composite Capital Markets -- now Sea Capital following its acquisition in March -- dwarfed everyone else across all single-strategy funds with its ability to pick winners in the self-driving vehicle market. And while the rest of the long-equity pack lagged quite far behind -- 13,641.83 bps of alpha is quite a trick -- there were still a couple dozen  funds achieving 1,000+ bps over market using the same general strategy.

That said, shorts added more than just style points to equity funds. While the top long-short fund, Baker Street Capital Management managed to eke out a mere 10,827.86 bps of alpha, every single fund in that category tracked by Novus exceeded 1,400 bps over market.

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Hedge Funds & ESG
July 9, 2021

An old saying, ascribed to the Iroquois, suggests considering the effects that any decision you make will have on the seventh generation to come. That's pretty much ESG investing's whole value prop. So it would appear that hedge managers can take the long view even when they're selling short.

The higher a company ranks on its ESG rating, the less likely it is to be shorted compared to the broader array of stocks. This is based on a comparison of the Novus Short Portfolio European index and the iShares Core MSCI Europe ETF. The discussion is confined to Europe because of short-interest disclosure requirements that are part of the regulatory framework there, but absent in most other markets. We'd be surprised, though, if the trend didn't hold worldwide.

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EU Short Disclosure
July 1, 2021

While it's true that there are only a few hundred bears left in the wilds of Southern Europe, they do seem to be active at certain hedge funds.

The alpha bear right now is AQR Capital Management, which recently increased its exposure from -3.43% to -8.51%. Marshall Wace simultaneously moved from a net-positive to a net-negative position, while BlackRock and Citadel moved incrementally to the short side. AKO Capital and JPMorgan, though, seem to have come to similar conclusions about EU equities as has AQR.

By the way, don't worry too much about the literal rather than metaphoric bears. They still thrive throughout Scandanavia and the Baltics.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
July 1, 2021

(This is the first in what is intended to be an irregular series about micro-cap stocks that have attracted hedge fund interest.)

While the hedge fund universe includes more than a thousand each of large- mid- and small-cap stocks, there are only 171 names on the micro-cap list. While some of these barely trade at all, some have rather excessive patterns as measured by the HFU's percentage of average daily volumes. For companies in which hedge funds own the largest proportion, this can be a stratospheric  number.

Take for example publisher Postmedia Network (OTC:PCDAF), two-thirds owned by Chatham Asset Management. The HFU's proportion of its ADV is 17.8 million percent. That's an order of magnitude higher than the 2.3 million percent of Indonesian insurer Asuransi MAG, controlled by Fairfax Financial. The HFU percentage of ADV is greater than 100,000% for five other micro-caps. The median figure for micro-caps is around 6,000% and for small caps around 2,000%.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
July 1, 2021

Over the past year, hedge funds have been backing away -- slowly but inexorably -- from the Consumer Discretionary sector. Exposure stood at 14.73% of AUM at the end of 2020's third quarter and, as of the last round of 13F filings, has dipped to 13.60%. When one considers that the economy is growing rapidly after a year of bottled-up demand and consumer confidence keeps rising, this seems counterintuitive if not countercyclical. Do fund managers believe that our appetite for new cars and luxury goods will soon be sated? Have hotels reservations started tapering off already? Did we finish up all our holiday shopping over Prime Day?

And yet the rotation is clearly on. Financials, in the meantime, have risen from 10.81% of AUM to 11.96%. Bets are also being made in Energy and Materials.

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Women-Led Funds
June 22, 2021

The lyrics made famous by Harry Belafonte, The Grateful Dead and a whole slew of other recording artists are borne out by the Novus Women's Best Ideas index. In almost every quarter of the past five years, woman-led funds outperformed the Novus Hedge Fund Universe. While this is true in the aggregate, it's most starkly illustrated if we set aside passive contribution and consider only active contribution.

Woman-led funds tend to be more exposed to the Materials sector than hedge funds more broadly while less exposed to Information Technology. They're also more likely to favor mid- and small-cap stocks. When they do invest in mega-caps, they apparently do it more wisely than the boys' club; their mega-cap alpha contribution is 1,877 basis points compared to 1,120 for hedge fund stock pickers as a whole.

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Manager League Tables
June 22, 2021

It was easy making money in New York in the first quarter -- all you had to do was park your dollars in an index fund and you'd be in for an 18% gain. Not so much in the rest of the world, and definitely not in the emerging markets.

Alpha is important in the developing nations. It may be elusive, but it can be found. Kora Management knows where it is, judging by its 5,272-basis point annualized stock-picking advantage. Gramercy Advisors and Think Investments were also in the zone, but then there's a significant drop-off. Then there's a really steep drop-off. Then there's a bunch of rows of minus signs.

The worst stock picker in the emerging markets, Asia Debt Management was almost as deeply negative in its alpha as Kora is positive. While the comparison between these two firms might not be fair -- ADM is a special situations play which intentionally invests in failing companies in the expectation of turning them around -- there's still enough range between the highest- and otherwise lowest-alpha ranking to make the point that not all hedge fund managers in this space are created equal.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
June 27, 2021

It's hard to find a mega-cap stock which more hedge funds bought than sold in the first quarter. Such non-bank financial services firms as Berkshire-Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) are deflecting more hedge fund attention than they're attracting as many large banks, most notably JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) but a long list to follow, have passed their sell-by dates.

Tech giants also seem to be part of hedge funds' outward rotation, with Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) sellers outnumbering buyers by more than two-to-one. Of the FAANGs, only Facebook (NYSE:FB) still held any allure as of the last round of 13F filings.

Other unloaded stocks include Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).

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Hedge Funds & ESG
June 18, 2021

Study after study shows that companies that focus on Environmental, Social and Governance criteria tend to outperform. Novus research bears that out, with top hedge funds holding a AAA rating on ESG metrics boasting a 39.00% return on invested capital compared to the 30.26% ROIC posted by BBB-rated funds.

But when you look at it in terms of alpha, it all evaporates. Security contribution is 58.10 basis points for AAA-rated funds, an order of magnitude less than the 687.69 bps for those rated BBB.

For those who wish to do well by doing good, perhaps the AA rating hits the spot. Its 33.50% ROIC pairs with a 244.44 bp security contribution.

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Novus 4C Indices
June 18, 2021

Hedge fund managers are infatuated by the Communication Services sector, the Novus 4C Conviction index shows. We say "are infatuated by" rather than "love" because love stands the test of time and, as recently as May 2018, there was literally zero interest in the sector. But overnight it became the source of roughly one-third of hedge funds' exposure and has stuck to that plateau ever since.

Impressive results from such components as Sea Ltd. (NYSE:SE) and Alphabet (Nasdaq:GOOG) keep the relationship spicy.

Still, hedge fund managers have a wandering eye, and it might be casting its gaze at Financial Services next. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) has garnered positive attention as read by the Consensus index.

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EU Short Disclosure
June 18, 2021

It was hard to go broke betting against robotics developer Blue Prism (LSE:PRSM) this year, with its ski slope-shaped stock chart. With its persistent operating losses, it's no wonder that it accumulated so much short interest.

But May was the month those short positions got covered, and that was prescient. The company announced first-half results June 17, reporting increased revenues and a sharply narrower loss than in the last year's first six months.

Still, it looks like JPMorgan Asset Management UK might be left holding the bag. Last year, the firm had no short position to report against PRSM. At last read, though, they had run up a 4.29% exposure. Systemetica Investments also seems to have bet the wrong way, taking a 2.09% short position.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
June 11, 2021

(This is the first in what is intended to be an irregular series about micro-cap stocks that have attracted hedge fund interest.)

PowerFleet (Nasdaq:PWFL), which makes RFID devices to track delivery vans, loaded in truckloads of money from nine different hedge funds last month. The stock was a savvy investor's back door into the logistics industry, which skyrocketed during the pandemic lockdown. PWFL, though, struggled in April and was ripe pickings in May.

Meantime, eight hedge funds bought into Catalyst Biosciences (Nasdaq:CBIO), which develops hemophilia treatments. Maybe those fund managers know something the rest of us don't because, judging by CBIO's performance the past six months, this company should really be focused on anemia.

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EU Short Disclosure
May 28, 2021

Let's start with what is not in contention: Michael Burry is a genius. He's a once-in-a-generation polymath. And yet, the subject of Michael Lewis's The Big Short hasn't been demonstrating that lately.

His Scion Asset Management fund has been underperforming the broader indexes for most of the past five years. Scion took an especially hard hit at the dawn of the pandemic in March 2020, starting in November, it looked to be catching up. And then, in April of this year, it looks like Burry's foot slipped off the gas pedal.

There's no one reason why Scion has begun to lag again, but here's one thought: It sold off all its stock in Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). And, while the case can be made that, not only is all the good news about the Covid-19 vaccine already in the stock, but there's real risk of government expropriation of the patent on the jab. Still, the broader market is sticking with Pfizer which, after a dip, is approaching a 20-year high.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
May 26, 2021

Hedge fund managers' job is to find hidden gems, so forgive them for not doubling down on mega-caps the way the rest of the investment community is doing.

Companies with floats exceeding $50 billion still account for a 44.19% plurality of hedge fund holdings, according to the Novus Hedge Fund Universe, but that's nowhere near the S&P 1500's 70.21% majority. They are instead looking at mid-caps -- to the tune of 18.50% of holdings, compared to the broader market's 6.84% allocation.

Among mid-caps, Change Healthcare (Nasdaq:CHNG) and Anaplan (NYSE:PLAN) are attracting outsized hedge fund attention, based on percent of shares held, number of hedge fund holders, buys and new entrants.

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EU Short Disclosure
May 28, 2021

Let’s start with, What is McPhy? It’s a French mid-cap – valued around $1 billion –tied to the hydrogen market. It’s a green energy play but, while such peers asBrookfield Renewable (Nasdaq:BEPC) or Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure(NYSE:AY) are consensus Buys, short sellers are making bank on McPhy.

There’s no public news driving McPhy down – from $35 to $26 year-to-date – but there must be whispers. Strategic investors like Electricite de France (Euronext:EDF)and BPI France – a major private sector utility and public sector investment consortium respectively – together account for 20% of ownership, yet short interest is now 7x what it was January 1.

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Hedge Fund Ownership
May 26, 2021

Non-tech companies are just living in it.

For years, hedge funds have been rotating out of the Consumer Staples, Energy and Financials sectors, according to 13F filings, then parking that money inInformation Technology. The pace keeps accelerating, but it’s not the nuggets they’re buying, it’s the super-sized orders.

While funds increase their tech exposure, they’re also concentrating on mega-caps, which now comprise 43% of AUM. Apple and Microsoft by themselves account for10% of assets. Considering Apple is down year-to-date and Microsoft is barely keeping up with the S&P, these look like long-term fundamental bets rather than momentum plays.

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