Is Square (SQ) Stock A Buy Or Sell?

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We know that hedge funds generate strong, risk-adjusted returns over the long run, therefore imitating the picks that they are collectively bullish on can be a profitable strategy for retail investors. With billions of dollars in assets, smart money investors have to conduct complex analyses, spend many resources and use tools that are not always available for the general crowd. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have occasional colossal losses; they do (like Melvin Capital’s recent GameStop losses). However, it is still a good idea to keep an eye on hedge fund activity. With this in mind, as the current round of 13F filings has just ended, let’s examine the smart money sentiment towards Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ).

Is Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ) stock a buy or sell? Prominent investors were getting more bullish. The number of bullish hedge fund positions increased by 16 in recent months. Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ) was in 89 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of the fourth quarter of 2020. The all time high for this statistic was previously 73. This means the bullish number of hedge fund positions in this stock currently sits at its all time high. Our calculations also showed that SQ isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q4 rankings).

In the financial world there are a large number of tools investors have at their disposal to grade stocks. A pair of the most under-the-radar tools are hedge fund and insider trading indicators. We have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the best fund managers can outperform the broader indices by a solid amount. Insider Monkey’s monthly stock picks returned 197% since March 2017 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by more than 124 percentage points. Our short strategy outperformed the S&P 500 short ETFs by 20 percentage points annually (see the details here). That’s why we believe hedge fund sentiment is a useful indicator that investors should pay attention to.

Chase Coleman of Tiger Global

At Insider Monkey we leave no stone unturned when looking for 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 hydrogen fuel cell 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 (or at the end of this article). With all of this in mind we’re going to take a peek at the recent hedge fund action surrounding Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ).

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

At Q4’s end, a total of 89 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of 22% from one quarter earlier. By comparison, 56 hedge funds held shares or bullish call options in SQ a year ago. With hedge funds’ sentiment swirling, there exists an “upper tier” of notable hedge fund managers who were adding to their holdings considerably (or already accumulated large positions).

The largest stake in Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ) was held by ARK Investment Management, which reported holding $1541.4 million worth of stock at the end of December. It was followed by Coatue Management with a $1335.2 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included Bares Capital Management, Lone Pine Capital, and Whale Rock Capital Management. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Bares Capital Management allocated the biggest weight to Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ), around 21.35% of its 13F portfolio. Tekne Capital Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 16.68 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to SQ.

As aggregate interest increased, specific money managers have jumped into Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ) headfirst. Tiger Global Management LLC, managed by Chase Coleman, initiated the biggest position in Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ). Tiger Global Management LLC had $88.9 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Renaissance Technologies also made a $59.9 million investment in the stock during the quarter. The following funds were also among the new SQ investors: Christopher Lyle’s SCGE Management, Paul Marshall and Ian Wace’s Marshall Wace LLP, and Michael Kharitonov and Jon David McAuliffe’s Voleon Capital.

Let’s now review hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ). These stocks are Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO), JD.Com Inc (NASDAQ:JD), Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:VRTX), KE Holdings Inc (NYSE:BEKE), Snowflake Inc (NYSE:SNOW), Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG), and Crown Castle International Corp. (REIT) (NYSE:CCI). This group of stocks’ market caps are closest to SQ’s market cap.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position MO,37,1082661,-10 JD,89,14395875,4 VRTX,53,3108859,-2 BEKE,30,2038963,2 SNOW,54,7723382,-5 BKNG,108,8247434,-5 CCI,40,2071704,-2 Average,58.7,5524125,-2.6 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 58.7 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $5524 million. That figure was $8819 million in SQ’s case. Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand KE Holdings Inc (NYSE:BEKE) is the least popular one with only 30 bullish hedge fund positions. Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ) is not the most popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still above average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for SQ is 77.8. 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 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 81.2% in 2019 and 2020, and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 26 percentage points. These stocks gained 7% in 2021 through March 12th and still beat the market by 1.6 percentage points. Hedge funds were also right about betting on SQ as the stock returned 11.2% since the end of Q4 (through 3/12) and outperformed the market. Hedge funds were rewarded for their relative bullishness.

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

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