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Cathie Wood’s Strategy Draws More Skeptics as Returns Wane

Short interest on the ARKK ETF has risen since the end of June to 4.6% of outstanding shares, close to a record high of 5.3% set in March

(Bloomberg) -- Skeptics of superstar fund manager Cathie Wood are increasing and becoming more vocal. 

High-profile hedge fund investors such as Michael Burry, made famous by “The Big Short” movie, have disclosed short positions against Wood’s flagship exchange-traded fund, while some appear to be trying to spar with her on social media and an anti-Ark ETF is also in works.

Semper Augustus Investments Group LLC’s Chief Investment Officer Chris Bloomstran took to Twitter overnight to make some observations on what he makes of Wood’s Ark Innovation ETF and the shorts against it. He offered as many as 37 tweets of unsolicited advice on the nuances of valuations and return ratios in some of his posts.

The upside is that six of the ETF’s top 10 holdings are making money, while “the bad news is the P/Es are somewhat higher than I’m accustomed to seeing,” Bloomstran wrote in a Twitter thread. “What I concluded is you and your team must be counting on growth. Lots of it.” 

While not making a comparison, since my companies generally earn profits, while the majority of yours do not, price to sales may be a better or more useful comparator. I must admit, I don’t recall ever seeing a portfolio trading at 15 times sales. Janus in March 2000? 19/

— Christopher Bloomstran (@ChrisBloomstran) August 18, 2021

Several hedge funds including Laurion Capital Management LP, GoldenTree Asset Management LLC and Cormorant Asset Management LLC hold short positions in ARKK, according to their most recent 13F filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Short interest on the ARKK ETF has risen since the end of June to 4.6% of outstanding shares, close to a record high of 5.3% set in March, according to IHS Markit data. 

Wood’s main fund and her firm Ark Investment Management LLC attracted billions of dollars in the past year after her thematic tech-focused bets trounced the market in 2020. But Wood and Ark have struggled to maintain momentum amid concerns about lofty prices and accelerating inflation. 

Her main fund ARKK is down about 6% this year after returning 149% in 2020 to rank among the best-performing ETFs in the U.S. and make a star out of Wood. Investors pulled $238 million from the fund Tuesday, the greatest daily outflow this month. ARKK is set for its first annual loss since 2016.

Cathie Wood’s Bad Spring Is a Blip When Future Is So Magnificent

Ark declined to comment on Bloomstran’s tweets. Wood has so far only rebutted Burry among her detractors. She said in a Twitter thread on Tuesday that, while Burry made a “great call” in the mortgage market, she believes he doesn’t understand “the fundamentals that are creating explosive growth and investment opportunities in the innovation space.”

While she may have her critics, Wood has been ahead of many peers in paring holdings tied to Chinese technology giants amid the nation’s sweeping crackdown on sectors ranging from education to technology. 

The widening regulatory overhaul underway in the world’s second-biggest economy wiped $1 trillion of market value from China shares listed globally last month. The selloff has prompted some fund managers to question their allocations toward Chinese assets.

--With assistance from Elaine Chen.

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