When it comes to investing, going with the crowd will rarely -- if ever -- make you rich. If your objective is to buy low and sell high, then, in the words of Warren Buffett, you must be "greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy." This is the foundation of contrarian investing.
But there's a twist. To be a contrarian investor, you must first know what to be contrary to. And this is where the SEC's invaluable EDGAR database comes in. Every quarter, companies and large institutional investors are required to disclose their equity holdings. By patching these together, we can get a fuller picture of a particular stock's popularity.
What follows, in turn, is a look at the principal owners of Annaly Capital Management's (NYSE:NLY) outstanding common stock.
A broad overview
As you can see in the following chart, the majority of Annaly's 947 million shares are held by retail investors. Company insiders, including board members and corporate executives, own a further 0.57% of the outstanding common stock. And institutional investors own the remaining 46%.
Digging in a big further, the largest institutional stake holders in Annaly are asset managers. Bond giant BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) tops the list at 6.7% ownership, followed by Pine River Capital Management at 2.5%, Bank of New York Mellon's (NYSE:BK) asset management arm at 2.3%, The Vanguard Group at 2.2%, and Allianz Global Investors at 2.1%.
The largest buyers have been Pine River and BNY Mellon, which have recently acquired 23.9 million and 21.8 million shares of common stock, respectively. Meanwhile, the two largest sellers of late have been Leggg Mason Capital Management and Thornburg Capital Management, which have disposed of 6.1 million and 5.5 million shares, respectively.
Turning to inside investors, far and away the largest inside owner is Michael Farrell, the former and late chairman and CEO, with 2.7 million shares, followed by the current chairman and CEO Wellington Denahan with 913,263 shares.
The Foolish bottom line
While insider and institutional ownership together represent only one metric, it's nevertheless an important one. Beyond hinting at the overall market's sentiment toward a stock, it also gives investors insight into the confidence of the people best positioned to predict a company's current state and future success.