While today’s cash market session started off confused, with the Dow crossing the unchanged line numerous times before the selloff once again accelerating, it follows a furious plunge yesterday which was driven by momentum stocks, and as noted yesterday, the MSCI USA Momentum ETF (MTUM) suffered it worst performance day ever on Wednesday.
The problem, as we discussed over the summer especially in the aftermath of the Facebook Q2 earnings fiasco, is that many of these momentum names are also among the most widely held hedge fund stocks. And while we already knew that hedge funds have had a bad year, as demonstrated by the fresh 1 year low print in the declining HFR equity hedge fund index…
… with the latest liquidation of momentum stocks, the recent market move has been absolutely brutal for hedge funds.
One place to watch the carnage first hand is the Goldman Sachs Hedge Industry VIP ETF, or GVIP, which was created to replicate exposure to stocks which are the most widely held by hedge funds long portfolios: this ETF has tumbled >7% from its recent just two weeks ago and has fallen 12 of the last 14 trading sessions. The current drop is now of similar magnitude to both the February VIX explosion and the March tech collapse.
And while it is common knowledge that the mega-cap tech names are – or at least were – a magnet for hedge funds, with the BofA fund manager survey reporting the “Long FAANG+BAT” as the most crowded trade for eighth straight month…
… a look at the performance over the past five days of some non-supercap “hedge fund hotels” which have at least 10% hedge fund ownership, paint a far more troubling picture of the bigger problem at hand for hedge funds. Here are the details from Bloomberg:
Needless to say, this is the last thing the industry needed, when it was already suffering from shrinking assets, bad performance, and prominent hedge fund closures such as lthe $12.1 billion Highfields Capital fund, the $2 billion Criterion Capital fund, and Tourbillon’s Jason Karp returning $1 billion as he shuts his main fund.
So with this latest “hedge fund hotel” devastation, one wonders just how many more fund managers will be forced to shut down, and liquidate the rest of their holdings, in the process perpetuating the selloff as more of the most widely held names by hedge funds have to find willing buyers in a market where idea dinners have already made them the most widely held stocks of the “smartest people in the room.”