Institutional investors didn't sell their of their holdings in Verizon (VZ) in the last quarter, but they still hate the stock. That's because their holdings in Verizon lost $2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2012. Zooming into specific types of funds tells an even more interesting picture: hedge funds, for instance, did sell in the aggregate, unloading almost 10% of their holdings of the firm.
So should you be a seller too?To be sure, Verizon does have its share of challenges. The company only owns half of its lucrative wireless business, for instance, and it's winding down the pricey capital spending of its FiOS fiber optic rollout, a program that some analysts have estimated to cost as much as $4,000 per installed home. But despite headwinds, Verizon has serious scale on its side as well as wireless and fixed-line networks that peers (save for AT&T (T) on the wireless side) will have serious trouble touching in the years to come. And investors can't ignore the income. Right now, Verizon pays out a 4.6% dividend yield, a huge payout that's supported by the massive cash generation that takes place over at Verizon Wireless. With debt additions set to flat-line with FiOS spending slowing, the firm looks like it's in better shape financially than it was before the recession forced management to rethink its priorities. Again, here's a defensive name that investors shouldn't hate right now, even if the pros do. Verizon shows up on a recent list of 3 Dividend Growth Stocks to Buy at Any Price, and I also featured in recently in "5 Blue-Chip Stocks Ready to Boost Dividends." To see these stocks in action, check out the Institutions' Most Hated Q1 2012 portfolio on Stockpickr. -- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.
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