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Did It Pay to Follow Hedge Funds in the Last Quarter?

How would you have performed if you simply invested in hedge funds' most overweighted stocks at the end of the previous quarter? See our slideshow to find out.

The first quarter of 2012 was the best first three-month period of a year for the Dow Industrials since 1998 and the best first quarter for the Nasdaq Composite since 1991.

So, you would think if you followed the most popular stocks held by hedge funds at the end of the last quarter of 2011 you would have made a killing.

Not necessarily.

The 15 most overweighted stocks by hedge funds at the end of 2011 — identified by the quantitative research department at Credit Suisse Securities — rose 9.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012. This was better than the Dow Industrials, which climbed 8.1 percent, but lagged the S&P 500, which jumped 12 percent and the Nasdaq Composite, which surged 19 percent.

If you bought the full basket of 15 stocks on February 16 — the first day after all of the hedge funds had completed their quarterly 13F filings detailing their stock holdings for the end of the prior quarter — you would have made just 4.66 percent. However, this easily beat the S&P 500, which rose just 3.71 percent for the same time period.

But the overall performance of that basket of stocks was heavily skewed by the strong performance of a handful of companies, including, which was up more than 53 percent in the quarter and 25 percent from mid-February,

In fact, just three stocks outperformed the S&P 500 for the entire quarter —, Medco Health Solutions and Express Scripts — while six stocks outperformed the benchmark from February 16 through the end of the quarter.

Two stocks lost money over both periods, another two lost money for just the entire quarter, while two other stocks lost money from mid-February through the end of the period.

Here are the 15 most overweighted stocks by hedge funds on December 30 and how they subsequently fared.

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