The hedge fund badly bruised by betting against GameStop is still struggling after ending the first half with a 46% loss, report says

Gabe Plotkin

Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital Management, targeted by the Reddit army of day traders for its bearish GameStop bets, ended the first half of the year with a 46% loss, Bloomberg reported.

The New York-based hedge fund, which suffered a stunning 53% loss in January from the Reddit-trader short squeeze, gained 1% in June. But it is still struggling to recover, Bloomberg said in the Thursday report, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Melvin Capital, founded by star portfolio manager Plotkin, did manage to stage something of a comeback with a 22% gain in February. But its overall first-quarter loss stood at 49%, Insider understands.

The hedge fund got torched by the Reddit army alongside other high-profile firms that had big bets against GameStop when day traders banded together to send shares of the gaming retailer skyrocketing. When the price of a stock rises, short sellers must typically cover their positions by buying shares at that higher price.

Melvin Capital lost a chunk of its assets in the trading frenzy, ending January with $8 billion in assets, down from $12.5 billion at the start of the year. Its assets had risen to $11 billion as of June 1, the Financial Times and Bloomberg reported.

After the January hit, the fund has somewhat recovered. It is up 18% for the five months between February and June, Insider understands. It gained 5.4% in the second quarter.

The hedge fund is understood to be taking smaller-sized positions to limit its exposure to single companies. It exited its public short positions against GameStop, AMC and other stocks in the first quarter, but may have still held non-public, more traditional short positions.

Founder Gabe Plotkin has also asked a team of data scientists to comb through social media and day-trader forums for stock names of interest to retail traders, Bloomberg reported.

A spokesperson for Melvin Capital declined to comment.

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GameStop short-seller Melvin Capital suffered a 49% loss in the 1st-quarter after being hit by the Reddit-fanned trading frenzy

Gabe Plotkin
Melvin Capital founder, Gabe Plotkin.

  • Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital extended its first-quarter losses to 49%, Bloomberg reported, citing sources.
  • Melvin declined 53% in January, reversed some of that loss with a 22% gain in February, but slid 7% again in March.
  • Reddit traders hammered the hedge fund’s short positions against GameStop earlier this year.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Melvin Capital, the hedge fund that dug itself into a hole during the GameStop saga, extended its first-quarter losses to 49%, according to a Bloomberg report.

The firm, founded by portfolio manager Gabe Plotkin, saw a 53% decline in January, reversed some of that loss by gaining 22% in February, but slid another 7% in March, Bloomberg said, citing sources.

Melvin was among a handful of short-sellers that got torched by the Wall Street Bets army that bid up GameStop’s shares, leading to massive losses for those that wagered bearish bets against the video-game retailer.

“51% to go,” a Wall Street Bets user posted on Reddit in response to Melvin’s first-quarter decline.

The fund closed its short position against GameStop on January 27. It started out this year with $12.5 billion in assets under management, but ended January with about $8 billion. Steve Cohen’s Point 72 and Ken Griffin’s Citadel injected a $2.75 billion investment in Melvin to support its battle against the Reddit army.

Plotkin racked up about $860 million through 2020 after his firm returned 53%, but January’s deep decline left him with an estimated personal loss of $460 million, Bloomberg reported.

Plotkin was grilled before a congressional panel in February, where he defended his short position and said it was never part of an effort to “artificially depress, or manipulate downward, the price of a stock.”

A spokesperson for Melvin didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital gained 22% in February – but the GameStop saga leaves it in a deep hole

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Melvin Capital boss Gabe Plotkin testified to Congress on the GameStop saga in February

Gabe Plotkin’s hedge fund Melvin Capital gained a chunky 22% in February, according to reports, but the investment firm remained in a deep hole after being battered during the GameStop saga.

The 22% gain, reported by numerous outlets, well outstripped the 2.6% rise in the S&P 500 across the month.

Yet Melvin Capital lost 53% in January after hemorrhaging money on its bet against video-game store GameStop, which skyrocketed when amateur traders organizing themselves on social media website Reddit got behind the stock.

The $8 billion fund needs to produce gains of 75% before earlier clients break even, Bloomberg reported. That is a tall task, even for a fund that posted average yearly returns of around 30% from 2014 to 2020.

However, hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed into the fund from investors who are confident in Plotkin’s abilities, Bloomberg said. Insider has contacted a media spokesperson for Melvin Capital for comment.

Melvin’s February gains are in part due to tweaks to Plotkin’s trading strategy. In testimony to Congress on the GameStop saga in February, Plotkin said he had “learned” from the episode. “I am taking steps to protect our investors from anything like this happening in the future,” he said.

For example, Plotkin has stopped using exchange-traded puts – contracts that allow investors to make money if a stock falls – which show up on regulatory filings and allowed his bets to be singled out by day-traders, Bloomberg reported.

The fund took an injection of $2.75 billion in cash from hedge funds Citadel and Point72, the latter run by Plotkin’s mentor Steve Cohen, as the day-trading frenzy rocked the firm.

He also said in his Congressional testimony he would avoid situations where lots of investors are betting heavily against a stock.

Crowded shorts are vulnerable to the types of so-called short squeezes that battered Melvin in January. Squeezes happen when short-sellers are forced to buy back the stock to cover their positions, driving the stock price upwards.

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