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 American Capital Agency's (NASDAQ:AGNC) outstanding common stock.
A broad overview
As you can see in the following chart, the majority of American Capital's nearly 389 million shares are held by retail investors. Company insiders, including board members and corporate executives, own a further 0.05% of the outstanding common stock. And institutional investors own the remaining 37%.
Digging in a bit further, the largest institutional stakeholders in American Capital are asset managers. Bond giant BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) tops the list at 6% ownership, followed by The Vanguard Group at 3.2%, and the asset management arms of UBS and State Street (NYSE:STT) at 1.9% and 1.6%, respectively.
The largest buyers have been BlackRock and Edge Asset Management, which have recently acquired 3.4 million and 1.5 million shares of common stock, respectively. Meanwhile, the two largest sellers of late have been Fred Alger Management and TD Asset Management, which have disposed of 4.5 million and 1.9 million shares, respectively.
Turning to inside investors, the largest inside stakeholder is president and chief investment officer Gary Kain, with 89,207 shares, followed by the a handful of directors and the company's chairman and chief executive officer, Malon Wilkus.
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.