Some of the hedge funds hardest hit by January’s populist short squeeze have already begun recovering from the pain inflicted by retail traders looking to topple Wall Street, The Post has learned.
At least three funds hurt by manic moves in stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment at the start of the year bounced back somewhat in February, including the so-called “Reddit rally” movement’s chief target, Melvin Capital.
The Gabe Plotkin run Melvin, which got a bad rap for a $2.75 billion lifeline it received in the midst of the short squeeze, gained 22 percent last month, as previously reported by Bloomberg News.
Andreas Halvorsen’s Viking Global Investors and Daniel Sundheim D1 Capital Partners have also started on the process of recovery, sources said. Viking grew 5 percent last month while D1 rose 15 percent, sources said.
The funds are still down for the year, however, following big losses from January’s unprecedented move by retail traders using Reddit boards and no-free trading apps to target short-selling hedge funds by buying up “meme stocks.”
Melvin, as Bloomberg reported, still needs to churn out a 75 percent gain to break even following its an eye-popping 53 percent loss in January.
But Viking and D1 are closer to getting back into the green with Viking closing the month of February down just 2.3 percent following a 7 percent decline in January, sources said.
D1, meanwhile, ended last month down roughly 5 percent after having lost 20 percent in the grueling short squeeze, according to a source with knowledge of the returns.
The reason for the rebound is unclear except that January’s squeeze on meme stocks was so sudden and huge that it swept over funds in short positions like a tsunami, drowning otherwise healthy portfolios. By covering their shorts as Robinhood restricted trading on GameStop and other meme stocks, funds were able to quickly ride back up in a month when the S&P 500 rose more than 4 percent.
“This escalated quickly,” quipped one macro hedge fund manager. “January scared the s*** out of these guys, but it looks like they should all be flat or up by April.”
“They came for “the suits” and they got some punches in,” mused the trader. “But I’m not seeing a lot of bruising.”
Mets owner Steve Cohen saw his Point72 fund, however, returned a more meager 1 percent in February after falling 9 percent in January, sources said.
The January short-squeeze may have also reignited an old feud between Viking and D1, which was formed in 2017 when Sundheim left his post as Viking’s chief investment officer. The exit forced the Greenwich-based megafund to return $8 billion to shareholders just months before its former star trader launched D1 as one of the biggest hedge fund launches ever.
“There were definitely some smile in Greenwich to see that Sundheim was down more,” said another hedge fund manager. “Sundheim always takes bigger swings than Halvorsen, that’s not a secret.”
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