It should surprise exactly no one that Frontier Communications (NYSE: FTR) attracts a lot of institutional and retail investor interest -- it's an $8 billion telecom company that dates back to the 1920s. What did surprise me, though, was its status as a top 100 most-owned stock by investment clubs, as measured by the folks at Better Investing. If retail investors were high on the stock, it got me to thinking: What's the consensus sentiment view on Frontier?

Turns out, the view is slightly bullish. Let's have a look at a few of the key sentiment drivers.

1. Analyst opinion
Analysts are split on Frontier. Data from Capital IQ captures their collective feeling:


Number of Analysts











No Opinion


Five analysts have either a "buy" rating or an "outperform" on the stock, but the majority sentiment (nine analysts) is a neutral "hold." There are two "sells." For purposes of this exercise, we'll classify analyst sentiment as neutral.

2. Insider buying
Next, we'll look at insider buying and selling. Over the past year, Frontier insiders have bought $269,540 worth of their company stock. During the same time period, insiders didn't sell a single share of stock. (Data from Form4Oracle.)

Now, for a company with an $8 billion market cap, that may not seem like much buying. But the absence of insider selling indicates very bullish sentiment.

3. Guru buying
Next, we'll look at "guru" ownership of the stock, according to GuruFocus.

In the quarter ended Dec. 31, five gurus traded Frontier -- three sellers, two buyers. Arnold Van Den Berg and Mario Gabelli were among the sellers, while George Soros was one of the buyers. In the previous quarter, the trend was more bullish: all four gurus were buying shares.

For the overall picture, though, we'll classify guru sentiment as neutral-leaning-bullish.

4. Retail investor community sentiment
For retail investor community sentiment, I turn to Motley Fool CAPS, our proprietary stock rating system. CAPS generates ratings on a one- to five-star scale, with five stars as the highest ranking, indicating that the Fool community believes in a stock's future. Frontier Communications has a neutral three-star rating.

5. Short-sellers
Next, we'll look at whether short-sellers are circling the stock. There are 64 million Frontier Communications shares sold short, according to Capital IQ. As a percentage of shares outstanding, that's a short interest of 6.4%. That's a little higher than I like to see, although it's lower than peer CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), which is at 12.30%, and just slightly higher than other domestic telecom Windstream (NYSE: WIN), which is at 4.2%. (By comparison, Barnes & Noble has a short interest of 23.5%.) For determining sentiment, we'll classify the short interest as neutral-leaning-bearish.

6. Does Buffett own it?
This is the "cherry on top" test, and in this case, it's a no: Berkshire Hathaway does not own shares of Frontier.

Adding it up
Analysts and the CAPS community have a neutral outlook on the stock. Although short interest is a little higher than you want to see, gurus and insiders trend bullish. Frontier does fail our final test -- Berkshire isn't a shareholder. Add it all up, and the consensus opinion on Frontier is slightly bullish.

Of course, you can't base an investment philosophy on who likes or dislikes the stock you own, and even a consensus bullish opinion can sometimes be a scary thing. Quoting Buffett: "A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."

The purpose of this series of articles isn't to make a definitive buy-or-sell call on Frontier Communications. Instead, by looking at a stock's sentiment, we aim to help you place your own opinion of it in a broader context.

One final thing: If you want to keep tabs on Frontier's movements, and for more analysis on the company, make sure you add it to your Watchlist.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.