Once upon a time, when hedge funds did not make daily TV and media appearances in hopes of finding buyers for whatever they were selling (i.e., were "bullish" on) and vice versa for shorts, 13F filings were the holy grail of alpha chasers and piggybackers everywhere. However, in recent years, hedge funds have become as media friendly as some of the biggest monopoly money talking heads to grace CNBC daily, and as a result hedge fund holdings are known far in advance of the mandatory 45 day 13F reporting date after the end of the quarter. Not only that, but with central banks dominating capital markets, what hedge fund XYZ does is hardly as exciting any more.
Still, one name that many enjoy tracking is Appaloosa billionaire David Tepper due to his contagious bullishness for a bigger part of the centrally-planned ramp since 2009, which has also resulted in massive paydays for Tepper: he has consistently been among the top 5 best paid hedge fund managers this decade. Which is great: after all, the Fed's wealth effect is precisely there to benefit the likes of David and his hedge fund peers. For everyone else, well, as Janet Yellen says "get some assets.
So how did Tepper do in Q2? In a word: lousy. In another word: the man who recently was on CNBC pitching a 20x P/E multiple as the new normal, may have just called the market top.
First, a quick flip through the names in his most recent 13F reveals that in the second quarter Tepper took notable new positions in AAPL and BABA. It is not exactly a secret that since the second quarter when AAPL stock was trading near its all time highs, both names have gone straight down, with AAPL recently entering a correction, while BABA has met obstacle after legal obstacle, and as recently as this week tumbled to all time post-IPO lows. If only it were singles week every week...
Worse, while Tepper was building his AAPL and BABA stake, he was liquidating his exposure in GOOG (via some $190 million in Class C shares as well as GOOG calls), just before GOOG exploded to the upside.
Most troubling, however, is that while in recent quarters Tepper had consistently carried over a levered upside bet in the market, in the form of SPY and QQQ calls (which as of March 31 were a massive $1.3 billion in share equivalents), in Q2 he unwound his entire call exposure. And not just in single name stocks, but in the two key ETFs noted above. Since the market went sideways during the second quarter, these positions certainly did not generate alpha, and if used as a hedge, they lost money vs the other revealed long equities positions (13Fs do not reveal shorts or credit positions, either cash or CDS).
Which begs the question: having unwound his two largest positions, which at face value are nothing more than levered bullish bets on the S&P500 and Nasdaq, did Tepper, in addition to apparently losing his touch, also call the top in the market?
Full Appaloosa 13-F breakdown.