Move In to Hedge Funds' 5 Favorite REITs This Summer

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BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- As we get deeper into 2014, real estate investment trusts -- better known as REITs -- continue to be a pocket of stellar performance for stock market investors. Year-to-date, the average large REIT is up more than 11.6%, double the performance of the S&P 500 over the same stretch.

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You'd better believe that hedge fund managers are paying attention to the trend too. In the last quarter, funds' five biggest REIT bets grew by a whopping $19.1 billion, an indication that the smart money is buying REITs with both hands right now.

And with the broad market's flight to yield holding up as the S&P presses up against new highs, the only question is why aren't you buying them too?

Today, we'll take a closer look at hedge funds' five favorite REITs for 2014. To figure those out, we've got to take a closer look at 13F filings.

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Institutional investors with more than $100 million in assets are required to file a 13F -- a form that breaks down their stock positions for public consumption. From hedge funds to mutual funds to insurance companies, any professional investors who manage more than that $100 million watermark are required to file a 13F.

In total, approximately 3,700 firms file 13F forms each quarter, and by comparing one quarter's filing to another, we can see how any single fund manager is moving their portfolio around. While the data is generally delayed by about a quarter, that's not necessarily a bad thing research shows that applying a lag to institutional holdings can generate positive alpha in some cases. That's all the more reason to crack open the moves being made with pro investors' $19.6 trillion under management.

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Without further ado, here are hedge funds' 5 favorite REITs.