Tiger Cubs are Licking Their Wounds

A generation of hedge-fund firms started by protégés Tiger Global Management’s Julian Robertson, known as “Tiger Cubs”, are “among of wave of stock hedge funds that fared poorly in 2016,” says a Wall Street Journal article from earlier this month.

Last year, the article states, Tiger suffered losses of about $900 million (a 15.3% loss) and, according to Morgan Stanley data, only one-fifth of the 8.5% gained by the MSCI AC World index last year (excluding December) came from equity hedge funds, a relative return that was “the second worst since the 2008 financial crisis.” Tiger Cubs, considered “bottom-up” stock pickers (because they make investment decisions based on information from management and corporate filings) were among the hardest hit.

These types of investors struggled last year, according to WSJ, because corporate performance didn’t often reflect the information gathered. Instead, the article explains, “entire sectors of the market traded in lockstep.” Also, it argues, those stocks that typically were more expensive and enjoyed stronger growth prospects experienced a sell-off—a surprise to some fund managers.

Some traders argue, the article says, that quant-based and passive investing “appeared to drive market moves.” But Greg Dowling of Cincinnati-based Fund Evaluation Group (which oversees about $60 million in assets) says, “It’s too early to say that fundamental stock picking is dead; it’s hard to envision a world with only robots and passive investors.”