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5 takeover rumors hedge funds are betting on

Marketwatch – Publicly traded companies are often acquired at a large premium to their market price pre-announcement, and so rumored takeovers—whether or not they turn out to be true—can cause speculators to pile into the stock. These stocks aren’t necessarily good buys, but certainly investors considering buying (or shorting) them should be aware of the potential for a takeover. We track quarterly 13F filings from hedge funds and other notable investors as part of our work developing investment strategies (for example, we have found that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds beat the S&P 500 by an average of 18 percentage points per year). Here are five stocks which have been the subject of recent takeover rumors:

Billionaire activist Carl Icahn has taken a large stake in Netflix NFLX +0.48% and there has been some speculation that he might push to sell the company. He owned 5.5 million shares as of the beginning of this year (find Icahn’s favorite stocks). Other analysts have claimed that Netflix could be a target purchase for a large technology company such as Microsoft to help win the “living room wars” between different consumer devices. Netflix’s stock price has been very volatile over the past few years, and is quite expensive at present with a forward earnings multiple of 69.

There is a good deal of resistance to the idea, but analysts continue to suggest that CBS CBS +0.51% might merge with Time Warner TWX +0.85% . CBS’s stock price rose slightly on May 1 after the company slightly beat analyst expectations on both top and bottom lines for the first quarter of 2013, with earnings rising by 22% versus a year earlier. Analyst consensus for 2014 implies a forward P/E multiple of 14. Greenlight Capital, managed by billionaire David Einhorn, increased its holdings of CBS by 24% in Q4 2012 to a total of 5.4 million shares (see Einhorn’s stock picks).

A new round of rumors have popped up regarding BMC Software BMC +0.73% , a $6.5 billion market cap enterprise software company, receiving two different offers from consortiums led by private-equity funds KKR and Bain Capital. Rumors of a BMC buyout have been common for some time. At its current price the company doesn’t look like too much of a value, but Wall Street analysts are bullish judging by their forecasts for future earnings per share. Billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management bought over 13 million shares of BMC between October and December (check out more stocks Singer was buying).

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