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Interested in defensive sectors such as utilities? Here are some ideas to get you started.

We ran a screen on the utilities sector for stocks seeing the most significant net institutional purchases over the current quarter, indicating that institutional investors such as hedge fund managers and mutual fund managers believe these stocks will outperform.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.‬

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

Do you think these stocks will outperform like hedge funds expect? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted by net institutional shares as a percent of share float.

  1. Calpine Corp. (NYSE:CPN): An independent wholesale power generation company, owns and operates natural gas-fired and geothermal power plants in North America. Market cap of $6.85B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 26.6M, which is 11.01% of the company's 241.50M share float. The stock has gained 7.16% over the last year.

  2. Niska Gas Storage Partners LLC (NYSE:NKA): Operates natural gas storage assets in North America. Market cap of $680.95M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 923.6K, which is 5.29% of the company's 17.45M share float. The stock has lost 45.55% over the last year.

  3. Targa Resources Corp. (NYSE:TRGP): Provides midstream natural gas and natural gas liquid ((NYSE:NGL)) services in the United States. Market cap of $1.69B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.3M, which is 4.67% of the company's 27.81M share float. The stock has gained 48.36% over the last year.

  4. Pampa Energia SA (NYSE:PAM): Electric Utilities Industry. Market cap of $591.94M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.1M, which is 4.52% of the company's 24.35M share float. The stock has lost 30.75% over the last year.

  5. GenOn Energy, Inc. (GEN): Operates as a generator of wholesale electricity in the United States. Market cap of $1.98B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 27.0M, which is 3.76% of the company's 717.23M share float. The stock has lost 36.39% over the last year.

  6. Atlas Energy, L.P (NYSE:ATLS): Engages in the gathering and processing of natural gas in the Mid-Continent and Appalachia regions. Market cap of $1.38B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 842.9K, which is 3.60% of the company's 23.42M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.66). Exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 8.39% above its SMA20, 11.24% above its SMA50, and 20.56% above its SMA200. The stock has gained 98.46% over the last year.

  7. Dynegy Inc. (NYSE:DYN): Engages in the production and sale of electric energy, capacity, and ancillary services in the United States. Market cap of $325.18M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.6M, which is 3.46% of the company's 75.20M share float. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 11.67%.

  8. ITC Holdings Corp. (NYSE:ITC): Engages in the transmission of electricity in the United States. Market cap of $3.81B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.7M, which is 3.35% of the company's 50.68M share float. The stock has gained 16.47% over the last year.

  9. Central Vermont Public Service Corp. (NYSE:CV): Operates as an electric utility company in Vermont, the United States. Market cap of $471.39M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 406.2K, which is 3.31% of the company's 12.28M share float. The stock has gained 66.59% over the last year.

*Institutional data sourced from Fidelity, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 9 Top Utility Stock Picks By Hedge Funds