Cathie Wood’s flagship Ark fund tops $300mn in fees despite losses

Cathie Wooden’s Ark Funding Administration has earned greater than $300mn in charges on its flagship trade traded fund since its inception 9 years in the past, whereas wiping out nearly $10bn of traders’ money in the identical interval.

Buyers have continued to plough cash into the Ark Disruptive Innovation ETF, identified by its ticker ARKK, over the previous two years regardless that it has been badly burnt by the downturn in know-how shares.

Ark has earned greater than 70 per cent of its $310mn charges for the reason that fund’s valuation plummeted by practically three quarters from its excessive in February 2021, based on FactSet information. This 12 months it has introduced in a median of roughly $230,000 in charges a day as ARKK’s worth recovered barely, rising by 1 / 4.

“Funding charges have offered ARK and Cathie Wooden an excellent residing,” mentioned Elisabeth Kashner, director of worldwide funds, analysis and analytics at FactSet. “Her traders haven’t been so fortunate.”

The fund supervisor has amassed a loyal following for her punchy bets on fast-growing tech corporations, which till early 2021 produced outsized returns for traders and drew eye-popping inflows.

The ARKK fund has backed dangerous corporations that it sees as radically reshaping the long run in know-how, robotics, biotechnology and house exploration.

Greater than $3bn flowed into ARKK within the first two weeks of February 2021 when the fund was up greater than 700 per cent from its launch, bringing its property to a peak of $27.9bn. However a rising rate of interest atmosphere that hammered development shares led to a droop in its worth. It now manages $7.6bn in property.

ARKK is unusually costly — its annual administration payment of 0.75 per cent of property is about double the common for actively managed ETFs, based on FactSet.

The payment invoice calls consideration to ARKK’s unusually excessive investor retention for an ETF with such poor efficiency. Flows have remained resilient regardless of the fund dropping $9.5bn in investor money with Wooden’s daring bets, based on Morningstar information.

“It’s extraordinary that traders who chased returns on the way in which up didn’t reverse course,” Kashner mentioned. “The overwhelming majority of traders have caught with Cathie Wooden.”

Many traders could also be nursing losses so giant they’re unwilling to withdraw their funds. “There’s a class of investor that’s trapped,” mentioned Ben Johnson, head of consumer options at Morningstar. “They’re anchored to the worth at which they bought it, and hoping it will get again there someway, someway.”

The fund noticed modest outflows when ARKK’s share value rebounded earlier this 12 months, enabling traders to exit with decreased losses. “They noticed a bounce, and it was a greater alternative to get out than it was final 12 months,” mentioned Todd Rosenbluth, head of analysis at VettaFi, a New York-based consultancy. “Folks don’t look like chasing robust efficiency.”

Johnson mentioned the fund’s unusually excessive volatility had attracted a category of traders who used derivatives to generate returns from its giant valuation swings.

“If their value chart squiggles sufficient and there’s a enough degree of volatility within the instrument’s value, it will entice demand from a really completely different crowd — I can’t use the phrase investor — that feeds off of, and earnings from, volatility,” he mentioned.

Methods aiming to revenue from ARKK’s unstable value — a triple leveraged brief ARKK ETF launched in November 2021 — have additional fuelled volatility within the underlying fund, based on Johnson.

Ark didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Wooden mentioned in a presentation to traders in late January that “innovation was punished” within the final quarter of 2022. However she reiterated her dedication to investing in “disruptive innovation” that may result in “exponential development trajectories” regardless of accruing large losses.

Since inception, ARKK traders have misplaced practically 27 per cent in greenback weighted returns — that means on common, each greenback invested within the fund is now price 73 cents, based on FactSet. Buyers who purchased on the peak are down greater than 74 per cent.

“[Wood’s] charges are excessive for the sector,” Kashner mentioned. “However traders have been their very own worst enemy. Folks dedicated the cardinal sin of chasing returns.”

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