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Der Artikel führt einige Hedgefonds auf, die seit Anfang diesen Jahres wegen fauler Kredite, meist im Subprime-Housing-Sektor, in Schieflagen geraten sind. Besonders fatal: Viele dieser Hedgefonds sind über Kreuz untereinander beteiligt. Geht der eine hopps, hüpft der nächste gleich mit über die Klippe.
Second Curve hedge fund stumbles in early 2007
Tiger alumnus and former top bank analyst takes subprime bet
By Alistair Barr, MarketWatchLast Update: 2:54 PM ET Feb 28, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Second Curve Capital, a $500 million hedge-fund firm run by Tiger Management alumnus and former top bank analyst Thomas Brown, has had a tough start to 2007 partly because of trouble in the subprime-lending sector.
The Second Curve Partners Fund, Brown's largest, lost 8.4% in January after rising 28% in 2006, according to a hedge-fund performance database run by the Barclay Group. The Second Curve Opportunity Fund, a smaller fund that takes more risk, was down 10% in January after jumping 54% last year, Barclay's data show. Some of Second Curve's largest holdings at the end of 2006 continued to decline in February, suggesting that the hedge-fund firm has suffered more losses this month.
CompuCredit Corp. (CCRT ) , a subprime lender that specializes in credit cards, auto loans and payday advances, has lost more than 20% so far this year. Declines have been particularly sharp during the past week. CompuCredit was one of Second Curve's largest holdings at the end of 2006, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. First Marblehead Corp. (FMD) , which operates in the student-loan market and is another large Second Curve holding, is down 20% this year. Second Curve also owns shares of New Century Financial Corp. (NEW ) and Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. (LEND) , two subprime-mortgage lenders that have been hit hard this year. New Century is down 50% in 2007, while Accredited is off 18%.
It's not clear exactly when Second Curve invested in New Century and Accredited. The stocks are not listed as holdings in the firm's year-end SEC filing. However, another filing on Feb. 9, said that Second Curve owned 8.5% of Accredited. Since that date, shares of Accredited have dropped almost 15%. Brown didn't return a call on Wednesday seeking comment.
Second Curve's returns have been volatile in the past, but the firm's start to 2007 stands out given Brown's high-profile reputation. He was a top-ranked bank analyst at Smith Barney, PaineWebber and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette before joining Julian Robertson's Tiger Management hedge-fund firm in 1998. After Tiger's performance sagged later that year and in 1999, Brown left to start his own hedge fund, joining a raft of other alumni known as "Tiger cubs." Brown is quite outspoken for a hedge-fund manager, running a Web site called Bankstocks.com where he discusses investment ideas. He's been a vocal critic of Citigroup Inc. (C ) Chief Executive Charles Prince, recently calling the bank's long-term strategy "doomed."
In one of his latest missives, Brown said that subprime-mortgage concerns were overblown and recommended that readers buy shares of Accredited. He disclosed his holdings in the lender as well as New Century in the article, but didn't mention his hedge-fund firm's losses so far this year. Subprime mortgages are offered to home buyers who fail to meet the strictest lending standards. Companies like New Century and Accredited that specialize in these types of loans have suffered as housing prices stopped rising and interest rates climbed from record lows. See full story. Brown argued against panicking, noting that recent credit-card and auto-loan statistics suggest that subprime borrowers generally aren't in meltdown mode.
"Given the level of investor panic surrounding the subprime borrower lately, I'm feeling very greedy regarding subprime lenders these days, and am especially greedy over subprime-mortgage lenders," Brown wrote on Feb. 27. "This is one of those times in investing, I believe, when it will pay to be very, very aggressive." Brown recommended Accredited because he said that the company is the best underwriter and most efficient originator in the business. It has also taken a conservative accounting approach and has access to enough cash and financing, he added "The investment partnership I manage has built a meaningful position in Accredited over the last three weeks," Brown wrote. "Investors with at least a one-year investment horizon will be very happy they bought the stock at current prices."
Second Curve runs a concentrated portfolio of financial-services stocks (the firm listed 17 holdings at the end of 2006) so performance can be volatile, and it has been in the past. The firm is also known for taking big, long-term bets, which also can create short-term volatility. Still, this year's losses come in contrast to the long-term performance of the firm. Data through mid-September that was obtained by MarketWatch show Second Curve's offshore funds have performed well. The offshore Partners fund generated annual returns of almost 18% since it started in April 2000. The S&P 500 Index is down during the same period.
Alistair Barr is a reporter for MarketWatch in San Francisco.