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6 Stocks Funds Love for 2012

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Last year wasn't exactly a banner year for institutional investors. While the S&P 500 essentially closed dead flat on the year, mutual funds lost 6% on average in 2011 according to Lipper Research. And hedge funds booked their second worst year in history last year, sliding an average of 5%; high-profile funds fared much, much worse.

So with a new trading year well under way, you'd think that investors have become soured of institutional opinions by now. But that may be a big mistake.

That's because institutional investors don't measure investment theses by the calendar year. And now that we've ticked into 2012, many of the ugliest bets of last year are starting to pay off. With fund managers getting vindication in the first two months of this year, let's take a look at the stocks they love.

>>5 Stocks Set to Soar on Bullish Earnings

To do that, we're focusing on 13F filings. Institutional investors with more than $100 million in assets are required to file a 13F -- a form that breaks down their stock positions for public consumption. From hedge funds to mutual funds to insurance companies, any professional investors who manage more than that $100 million watermark are required to file a 13F.

In total, approximately 3,100 firms file 13F forms each quarter, and by comparing one quarter's filing to another, we can see how any single fund manager is moving their portfolio around. Even though not all of the filings are in yet for the previous quarter, we've got enough data to get a good idea of the favored stocks for the most recent filing period. And with timeliness being a crucial element of coattail investing, it's important to strike while the iron's hot.

Today, we'll focus on six institutional favorites for the fourth quarter of 2011.
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