Blindly following hedge funds into their investments isn't the smartest strategy, but seeing where the smart money is putting its money can still be instructive. Personal-finance website WalletHub examined the most recent SEC disclosures filed by more than 400 hedge funds and found their funds were going in similar directions at the end of the second quarter of 2017.
Although you won't be shocked by any of the names you find on the top 10 list of stocks hedge funds were buying, you can gain insight into where they think the stock market is heating up.
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Because of its dominating influence on just about everything it touches, it probably doesn't raise many eyebrows that Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) sits atop the list of stocks hedge funds are buying most.
While its e-commerce platform has been the most obvious business investors see, Amazon is also a leader in cloud computing, which alone contributes $15 billion annually in revenue; it's the No. 2 video streamer; and it's a leader in voice-activated technology such as Alexa. Its acquisition of Whole Foods Market, which just gained both regulatory and shareholder approval, also promises to upend the grocery-store category.
If they're already investing in the leading cloud-computing service, it stands to reason that hedge funds would take a stake in Oracle (NYSE: ORCL), which is making a run at Amazon Web Services with its own cloud infrastructure platform. In its third-quarter earnings report, Oracle said cloud software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service revenue surged 73% year over year to hit $1 billion in revenue for the the database giant.
The push seems a natural extension for Oracle as it keeps all of its database customers in-house. Although its legacy hardware and software businesses are lagging, Oracle more than makes up for it in growing cloud revenue and a future where their the dominant source of sales could be why the smart money is moving in.
3. Philip Morris International
Cigarettes are in a dying business, but Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM) sees its future as one that is "smoke-free." The tobacco giant is quickly seeing opportunities to become the driving force in electronic cigarettes, and its iQOS heat-not-burn (HNB) alternative could be the next evolution in creating that vision.
Unlike regular e-cigs that heat up a nicotine-saturated liquid to create a vapor that a user inhales, HNB technology heats up real tobacco to the point where a vapor -- not smoke -- is created, giving users the tobacco taste they seek. It is on track to become the first manufacturer to earn a "reduced risk" label, which would provide Philip Morris with a huge competitive advantage.
The big biotech might rely heavily on the world's best-selling drug Humira, a treatment that's used for a number of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, plaque psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, but AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) has another drug, Imbruvica, that holds the promise of becoming another blockbuster, possibly even being one of the top five best-selling cancer drugs on the market.
And AbbVie boasts one of the best drug pipelines in the industry, with treatments including cancer drugs Rova-T and Veliparib as well as autoimmune-disease drug ABT-494. Rival Amgen may have won approval for a Humira-like drug, which has caused some investor consternation, but the future still looks plenty bright for AbbVie.
OK, maybe Broadcom (NASDAQ: AVGO) is one stock that will surprise some, at least for how high it placed on the list -- beating out such stocks as Alphabet, Netflix, and Microsoft -- but this isn't the semiconductor company of years past. Today it's the premier supplier of chips to smartphone and tablet producers, especially Apple, which accounts for more than 10% of its sales, and it considers itself to be the "leading designer, developer, and global supplier of a broad range of digital and analog semiconductor connectivity solutions that serve the wired infrastructure, wireless communications, enterprise storage, and industrial markets."
That's a mouthful, no doubt, but with its purchase of Brocade Communications, it will also be a premium make of networking switches, software, and storage products that can take on Cisco Systems and fuel further growth.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool recommends Broadcom Ltd and Cisco Systems. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.