Tickers in this Article: HDIX, PCYC, IBB, LAB, VCBI
When professional investors become interested in a company, those stocks begin to move. And as the shares below demonstrate, those moves can be sudden, powerful and extraordinarily profitable. (Discover how some strange human tendencies can play out in the market, prompting the question, are we really rational? Check out Understanding Investor Behavior.) Here are four issues that recently saw big moves after institutions decided to climb aboard.

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Hitting Home
Home Diagnostics Inc.
(Nasdaq:HDIX) stock is up better than 125% in the last year, with the bulk of the gain occurring on just a single day's trade roughly a week ago. It was on February 3rd that this stock, which normally trades 600,000 shares daily, rocketed up more than 85% on a volume of 15 million shares. Professional investors decided to grab a piece of the company's pie, and the results speak for themselves.

Home Diagnostics produces a commercial blood glucose monitoring system that can be used by those who suffer from diabetes. The company was recently taken over by Nipro Corporation, a Japanese medical device firm with 50 years of history behind it.

HDIX has grown annual revenues for the last five years at a 10.89% rate, outperforming the S&P 500 by 3.51%.

Another Biotech Buyout
Pharmacyclics Inc.
(Nasdaq:PCYC) is a biopharmaceutical company that develops applications for cancer and immune mediated diseases. The shares of PCYC have jumped by more than 21% in the last week as institutional investors realized some new found potential in the company. They now control better than 45% of the company's float.

For the year, PCYC shares are higher by 475%, outperforming the biotech sector by a large margin, which is up only 14.7% in the last twelve months as measured by the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NYSE:IBB).

Buy! Sell! Buy!
LaBranche & Co., Inc. (NYSE:LAB) is a financial service company that provides floor traders and market makers in futures, options and ETFs. The company's shares are down more than 35% over the last twelve months, having taken a bruising during the first part of 2009 when markets were still in the dumper.

But in the last month, LaBranche stock has soared by nearly 60% as institutional interests stepped in to buy. LAB stock jumped from an average daily volume of 500,000 to a single day's 5.5 million midway through January, lifting the stock from $2.75 to $4.00. Since then the shares have cruised north to trade recently at $4.50.

Virginia Commerce Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq:VCBI) saw shares rise from $4.20 to $5.90 on one day in late January on 13x its average daily volume. Institutions jumped on this retail banking operation after reporting its first quarterly profit in the last four.

The Wrap
Violent surges in price and volume were the results of interest shown by institutions in these four stocks. What lies ahead is never certain, but the promise of more institutional investment once the trail has been blazed is a highly probable. (Every style of investing is different, so where do you fit in? For more information, read What Makes Investors Tick?)

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