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TheStreet Open House

5 Stocks Hedge Funds Have Been Buying

NEW YORK ( Insider Monkey) -- Hedge funds disclosed their first-quarter holdings a couple of weeks ago.

There has been significant media interest in the most popular stocks among hedge funds.

The rankings of the top stocks actually didn't change compared to the end of 2011.

Apple (AAPL) was still the most popular stock, followed by Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT). (See the 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds).

Contrary to popular view, long/short equity hedge funds don't trade very frequently. Apple and Microsoft have been among the top three most popular stocks since at least the end of 2010. Investors would have profited handsomely if they have bought these stocks in early 2011.

In this article we are going to take a closer look at stocks that experienced a significant amount of hedge fund interest recently. Some of these stocks have the potential to become hedge fund darlings over the next six months.

Illumina (ILMN). The stock was trading for more than $35 in February before it received an offer from Roche Holdings AG.

The stock jumped to more than $50 after the announcement, and that's probably when hedge funds bought in.

There were 17 hedge funds with ILMN positions at the end of December. That number stood at 49 on March 31.

Unfortunately, Roche's tender offer expired and Illumina currently trades around $44. Hedge funds probably lost more than 10% on this trade.

James Dinan and Andreas Halvorsen are among the hedge fund managers that bet more than $100 million on this stock.

American International Group (AIG) is a candidate to become a hedge fund darling.

There were 45 hedge funds at the end of March, vs. 21 hedge funds in December.

Bruce Berkowitz has been a long-time AIG investor. His total position in AIG approached $3 billion at the end of March.

Robert Pitts' Steadfast Capital, Steve Cohen's SAC Capital, and Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisors initiated new bullish positions in the stock.

The government still owns the majority of AIG shares, and investors expect it to sell its shares at around $29 which is the break-even price for the Treasury.

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