I have argued that ARK Invest's (ARKK) "virtuous cycle" of ETF inflows and disruptive tech outperformance is likely to morph into something more hideous -- a "vicious cycle" grounded in tech stock weakness, and a continued pivot from growth to value, likely ETF redemptions and, ultimately, in reduced ETF liquidity, forced stock sales and lower ETF prices.
Ark Invest continues to reduce its positions in large cap liquid stocks and into smaller cap illiquid stocks today - according to their activity email. $ARKK's virtuous cycle is turning vicious. @jimcramer @tomkeene- Dougie Kass (@DougKass) March 4, 2021
ARK Invest and its accompanying exchange-traded funds have ridden the wave of interest in disruptive technology -- the money management has too quickly became "the flavor of the month", as, in the last 12-15 months, ARK's assets under management (AUM) have climbed from about $10 billion to a recent peak of approximately $59 billion.
ARK Invest is an incredible marketing machine (reminiscent of previous flavors at Janus Funds, First Hand Funds, the Manhattan Fund and the three Freds (Fred Mates, Fed Alger and Fred Carr) - whose money management firms also captured the imagination of retail and institutional investors near/at other market peaks - and then fell precipitously as the cycle reversed.
Upon closer examination, as I have written, Cathie Wood's investment performance has not been stellar - at her disappointing 12 year stint managing thematic portfolios at Alliance Bernstein and, even at ARK -- which had only two excellent years - in 2017 and in 2020 - since being formed nearly eight years ago.
As a whole, during ARK's 2013-2021 existence - ARK's performance, on a risk-adjusted basis has not been stellar. On two important metrics and historically grounded risk measurement techniques (the Sharpe Ratio, which measures investment returns relative to the standard deviation of those returns, and the Fama/French factor model), ARK's investment returns failed to be much better than (QQQ) or benchmarked small cap/momentum/growth funds.
Here are some recent columns I have posted which outline the risks in ARK Invest's strategy and the vulnerability of ARKK, which I believe should be sold/shorted:
*"Its About To Rain For Forty Days and Forty Nights - Will Cathie D Wood Need Her ARKK"
* My Barron's Comments (On ARKK) in Barron's"
* "Trade of the Week (Short ARKK $140)"
Signs of a Crack In the ARKK
ARKK's shares peaked at $159 in mid-February and were trading at $112.25 in premarket trading this morning.
ARK Invest's Cathie Wood has begun to engage in a potentially dangerous portfolio strategy - of raising liquidity by selling less volatile, large cap tech stocks (e.g., Amazon (AMZN) , PayPal (PYPL) , and Facebook (FB) ) in favor of buying higher octane, more volatile small cap tech stocks in which ARK has a substantially rising percentage of float/outstanding shares.
Should tech shares continue to decline and ARK Invest ETFs' redemptions accelerate - the absence of liquidity will be profound and it is possible that a "flash crash" (and loss of liquidity ) in some of their ETFs would be increasingly possible:
I remain negative on the U.S. stock market.
ARKK may be viewed as a leveraged short - vulnerable to a continuation in disruptive tech share price weakness and a continued pivot from growth to value. In its extreme, rising redemptions could cause an adverse liquidity event in ARKK and in ARK Invest's other exchange traded funds.
I would sell/short ARKK.
(This commentary originally appeared on Real Money Pro on March 25. Click here to learn about this dynamic market information service for active traders and to receive Doug Kass's Daily Diary and columns from Paul Price, Bret Jensen and others.)