Ken Griffin: To the Mightiest Companies Will Go the Spoils

Hedge fund honcho looks to strongest companies (seems like the FAANG bunch) to do best in turbulent 2019.

Hedge fund magnate Ken Griffin sees the strongest dogs in the corporate pack doing the best at running up outsized returns in 2019, he says in his latest letter to investors. And from the looks of things, he’s talking about the FAANG stocks.

His $30 billion Citadel hedge fund company expects the most robust companies to do best in what he termed “the heightened volatility in financial markets.” Not, oh, value plays.

Makes sense. Although the first two months of the year have done well, a number of macro factors are disconcerting: a slowing global economy, some laggard indicators in the US, ongoing trade turmoil between Beijing and Washington, and a holy mess brewing with Britain’s misbegotten exit from the European Union.

Griffin’s brief and general letter didn’t offer any firm insights into exactly where he is taking Chicago-based Citadel. But his returns from last year, as reported by Bloomberg News, show how solidly he has lined up with the major players in the corporate arena, particularly in the tech part of it.

His flagship, multi-strategy Wellington Fund was ahead 9% for the year. In 2018, the S&P 500 had a total return of -4.3% and, according to Hedge Fund Research, hedge funds lost 4.1%.

Among Citadel’s top equity holdings at year-end 2018, by the count of, were Amazon (7.8%), Apple (1.9%), Alphabet (1.5%), and Facebook (1.5%). In other words, the FAANG stocks that rode high for a long time until they ran into trouble in late 2018. Of course, all of these tech titans are stuffed with cash and generate enormous profits and revenues. A lot of investors expect them to turn around, with a vengeance.

Citadel also has healthy positions in large financial stocks, such as Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup. plus leaders of the industrial segment like Boeing, a sector that happens to be doing better than tech lately. The one problematical company is Tesla, which has struggled to produce electric cars and stop producing red ink.

In 2018, says Insider Monkey, Citadel bought shares in leading lights like Alibaba, Taiwan Semiconductor, and Lowe’s.

So things are going pretty well for billionaire Griffin nowadays. He just bought a Manhattan penthouse for $238 million, a record for a home in the US. This guy thinks big, always.

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