Institutional Buyers Love These 20 Small-Cap Winners

Institutional buyers are simply those with assets under management over $100 million. These include banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, etc. Their market power is considerable, not least because when they move large quantities of cash into and out of stocks, it influences decisions made by other investors.

Main Street investors often try to mimic these large intuitional traders knowing that a professional with access to sophisticated market analysis would not sink several millions into a stock if they were expecting it to crash and burn. Similarly, they would not sell large blocks of shares if they expected a rally.

However, there is a significant difference between hedging and gambling, so make sure to do your research before blindly copying the movements of an institutional buyer. It could also be that an institutional buyer is selling to diversify, not necessarily because the stock is bad.

Business section: Investing ideas
With the value of institutional investors in mind we created a list of 20 stocks meeting the following requirements:

  • Significant net institutional buying in the current quarter
  • Small market cap (between $300 million-$2 billion)
  • Rallying above their 20, 50, and 200 day moving averages (MA). This is a sign of bullish momentum
  • Average trading volume above 50,000 shares -- significant for justifying rallying momentum.

Do you think these names have more upside to price in? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

List compiled by Rebecca Lipman:

1. AmTrust Financial Services: Operates as a multinational specialty property and casualty insurance company in the United States and internationally. Market cap at $1.73B, most recent closing price at $28.54. The stock is currently rallying 3.52% above its 20-day MA, 7.36% above its 50-day MA, and 16.41% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 2.2M shares, which represents about 7.21% of the company's float of 30.50M shares.

2. Akorn: Engages in the manufacture and marketing of diagnostic and therapeutic pharmaceutical products, hospital drugs, and injectable pharmaceuticals in the United States and internationally. Market cap at $1.26B, most recent closing price at $13.30. The stock is currently rallying 5.95% above its 20-day MA, 12.57% above its 50-day MA, and 29.94% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 10.1M shares, which represents about 14.4% of the company's float of 70.12M shares.

3. Allot Communications: Engages in developing, selling, and marketing Internet protocol service optimization solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. Market cap at $772.38M, most recent closing price at $24.74. The stock is currently rallying 5.39% above its 20-day MA, 6.02% above its 50-day MA, and 46.27% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 2.3M shares, which represents about 9.47% of the company's float of 24.28M shares.

4. ARMOUR Residential REIT (NYSE: ARR  ) : Market cap at $1.23B, most recent closing price at $6.94. The stock is currently rallying 0.94% above its 20-day MA, 2.99% above its 50-day MA, and 6.6% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 25.7M shares, which represents about 14.52% of the company's float of 176.97M shares.

5. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store: Engages in the operation and development of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant and retail concept in the United States. Market cap at $1.38B, most recent closing price at $59.39. The stock is currently rallying 0.26% above its 20-day MA, 2.43% above its 50-day MA, and 18% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 1.2M shares, which represents about 6.58% of the company's float of 18.24M shares.

6. Corcept Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CORT  ) : Engages in the discovery and development of drugs for the treatment of severe metabolic and psychiatric disorders. Market cap at $361.61M, most recent closing price at $4.08. The stock is currently rallying 6.45% above its 20-day MA, 8.88% above its 50-day MA, and 22.8% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 5.5M shares, which represents about 10.99% of the company's float of 50.04M shares.

7. Cost Plus (Nasdaq: CPWM  ) : Operates as a specialty retailer of casual home furnishings and entertaining products in the United States. Market cap at $495M, most recent closing price at $22.01. The stock is currently rallying 3.12% above its 20-day MA, 12.42% above its 50-day MA, and 79.06% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 1.7M shares, which represents about 9.09% of the company's float of 18.70M shares.

8. Central Vermont Public Service: Operates as an electric utility company in Vermont, the United States. Market cap at $478.71M, most recent closing price at $35.07. The stock is currently rallying 0.25% above its 20-day MA, 0.49% above its 50-day MA, and 1.23% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 724.8K shares, which represents about 5.8% of the company's float of 12.50M shares.

9. Denny's: Engages in the ownership and operation of a chain of family style restaurants. Market cap at $403.83M, most recent closing price at $4.20. The stock is currently rallying 4.4% above its 20-day MA, 4.59% above its 50-day MA, and 10.31% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 4.8M shares, which represents about 5.05% of the company's float of 95.06M shares.

10. Demand Media: Operates as a content and social media company in the United States. Market cap at $760.22M, most recent closing price at $9.06. The stock is currently rallying 0.43% above its 20-day MA, 13.15% above its 50-day MA, and 20.99% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 2.1M shares, which represents about 9.2% of the company's float of 22.82M shares.

11. Hudson Pacific Properties: Operates as a vertically integrated real estate company. Market cap at $352.85M, most recent closing price at $15.88. The stock is currently rallying 1.13% above its 20-day MA, 2.19% above its 50-day MA, and 13.67% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 1.5M shares, which represents about 6.47% of the company's float of 23.20M shares.

12. ISTA Pharmaceuticals: Develops, and markets remedies for diseases and conditions of the eye in the United States. Market cap at $380.54M, most recent closing price at $9.08. The stock is currently rallying 0.25% above its 20-day MA, 1% above its 50-day MA, and 39.37% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 3.1M shares, which represents about 7.69% of the company's float of 40.31M shares.

13. NewStar Financial: Provides customized debt financing solutions in the United States. Market cap at $529.55M, most recent closing price at $10.75. The stock is currently rallying 1.49% above its 20-day MA, 1.82% above its 50-day MA, and 12.19% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 7.6M shares, which represents about 39.36% of the company's float of 19.31M shares.

14. Netspend Holdings: Provides general-purpose reloadable prepaid debit cards (GPR cards) and related alternative financial services to under banked consumers in the United States. Market cap at $555.1M, most recent closing price at $7.26. The stock is currently rallying 3.4% above its 20-day MA, 1.52% above its 50-day MA, and 6.55% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 2.0M shares, which represents about 5.88% of the company's float of 34.01M shares.

15. Pilgrim's Corp.: Produces, processes, markets, and distributes fresh and frozen chicken products to retailers, distributors, and foodservice operators primarily in the United States. Market cap at $578.41M, most recent closing price at $7.81. The stock is currently rallying 2.11% above its 20-day MA, 6.02% above its 50-day MA, and 35.86% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 4.6M shares, which represents about 8.23% of the company's float of 55.86M shares.

16. Ardea Biosciences: Focuses on the discovery and development of small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of gout and cancer in the United States. Market cap at $1.18B, most recent closing price at $31.90. The stock is currently rallying 0.4% above its 20-day MA, 16.63% above its 50-day MA, and 57.95% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 10.0M shares, which represents about 49.12% of the company's float of 20.36M shares.

17. Synta Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SNTA  ) : Focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of small molecule drug candidates for treating severe medical conditions, including cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases. Market cap at $293.96M, most recent closing price at $5.10. The stock is currently rallying 33.1% above its 20-day MA, 30.63% above its 50-day MA, and 29.26% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 6.5M shares, which represents about 17.61% of the company's float of 36.91M shares.

18. Santarus (Nasdaq: SNTS  ) : Engages in acquiring, developing, and commercializing proprietary products that address the needs of patients treated by physician specialists. Market cap at $418.23M, most recent closing price at $6.68. The stock is currently rallying 10.17% above its 20-day MA, 14.06% above its 50-day MA, and 62.58% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 3.9M shares, which represents about 9.79% of the company's float of 39.82M shares.

19. SciQuest: Provides an on-demand strategic procurement and supplier enablement solution worldwide. Market cap at $346.1M, most recent closing price at $15.52. The stock is currently rallying 5.15% above its 20-day MA, 5.42% above its 50-day MA, and 8.18% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 2.3M shares, which represents about 11.24% of the company's float of 20.47M shares.

20. ZIOPHARM Oncolog: Focuses on the development and commercialization of in-licensed cancer drugs in North America. Market cap at $384.88M, most recent closing price at $4.84. The stock is currently rallying 6.77% above its 20-day MA, 2.24% above its 50-day MA, and 4.06% above its 200-day MA. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 8.7M shares, which represents about 16.07% of the company's float of 54.15M shares.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman and Ryan Horch not own any of the shares mentioned above. Institutional data sourced from Fidelity, all other data sourced from Finviz.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2012, at 4:01 PM, kabrink wrote:

    I thought Cost Plus was being acquired by Pier 1? Institutional guys might be playing it for a tiny arbitrage play but that makes no sense for the little guy.

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