the company best known for its Windows operating system, has won the rare distinction of being the most hated and, at the same time, the most loved stock in the third quarter, thanks mostly to how such lists are compiled.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, Microsoft leads the list of stocks most sold in the third quarter based on changes in positions among top 10 hedge funds with equity-focused strategies. The tech company was followed by Symantec Corp.
FleetCor Technologies Inc
Deere & Co.
and LyondellBasell Industries N.V.
Under the same criteria, the most popular stocks were BHP Billiton PLC
, Netflix Inc.
, and Priceline Group Inc.
S&P Global’s analysis also showed top hedge funds owned $167 billion in stocks, up $13 billion from the second quarter. By sectors, financials, energy and health care saw sharp growth in long positions, which are bets that prices will rise in the future.
“Total equity positions and total equity assets under management have increased in the third quarter at a pace we haven’t seen since 2015, suggesting a healthy appetite for stocks in the financials, energy, and health-care sectors,” said Pavle Sabic, head of market development at S&P Global Market Intelligence.
On the other hand, WalletHub, a personal finance website, ranked Microsoft as the most loved, based on combined value of hedge fund positions in the stock at the end of the quarter.
Tech stocks are undisputed favorites among investment firms with Apple Inc.
, Facebook Inc.
and Alphabet Inc.
rounding out the top five on the popular list.
But reviled by hedge funds or not, there is a lot to like about Microsoft. It reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings last month and its stock jumped 8.1% in the third quarter. So far in the fourth quarter, the stock has gained 11%, beating Apple, Facebook and Alphabet.