Thursday, December 10, 2009

Risk Management: The Markets Never Sleep

When we came into work on Monday, we were greeted with the news that Jeffrey Gundlach, the long-time portfolio manager of the TCW Total Return bond fund and the TCW Strategic Income closed end fund, had been “relieved of his duties” over the weekend, according to reports. While we don’t know the full details of what happened, it appears that there was some sort of disagreement with upper management, and they decided to take action and replace him with a new, outside portfolio management team.

Mr. Gundlach is widely respected as one of the leading experts of mortgage-backed securities. We purchased his fund late last year with the thought that his fund would be the best way to invest in beaten-down mortgage securities, which we believed were offering a very attractive investment opportunity at the time. Indeed, as shown on the chart below, his fund is up over 20% this year, which is a tremendous return out of a bond fund. We were certainly disappointed to learn of his departure. When we also learned that his top assistants had also stepped down, we decided we needed to take action and sell the fund, since there was clearly a material change at the top involving those managing the fund.

Bombshells like these don’t occur very often, but when they do it requires an immediate review of that holding. In today’s environment the news comes fast, and markets never sleep. This is an example of the sort of risk management that Pinnacle provides for its clients.