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Whitebox Tactical fund - Scot and others

What is your opinion on WBMAX - Whitebox Tactical Opportunities fund ?
I bought last year as WBMRX but TDA moved me to WBMAX after Whitebox eliminated WBMRX share class.
There is no movement in the fund since I brought, and I am at 2% loss as of today. Usually, I keep the funds for long.
For example, held VHGEX for 10 years, VDGIX for 8 years, etc.

I brought this fund as an alternative for bonds and use it as a hedge fund.
I know Scott has a very good opinion about Whitebox folks. What do you guys think about it?
Are there any better alternatives in this space (tactical/hedge or whatever you call this category) ?



  • Looking at M*, this fund has a lot of cash on hand which would explain the lack of movement. I don't own any Whitebox funds but there are some here that do and they are talked about on occasion.

    The manager is keeping his powder dry. Not a bad idea as this market has had a good run up.
  • At minimum, I see it as a hedge against QE not unwinding as easily as planned.
  • edited October 2014
    Keeping. As reality sets in a bit, the fund has held up quite well. The fund makes a very detailed case for its views in its investor letters (including discussion of the fund's current long/short themes and why, as well as honest reflections about recent performance in terms of what has been working and what has not) and while no one can certainly time the market, I do believe that now is the time to look to conservative funds and be tactical. The fund is effectively market neutral at this point, as well. I have a l/s bucket with a few different funds, all of which have done quite differently this year.
  • Scott, appreciate if you can share your ls bucket
  • @mrc70: Thanksgiving is coming, and you can prepare this turkey for the feast. One Year Returns, S&P 500 17.85% - WBMAX 0.01%, enough said.
  • I don't think you can compare this fund to the S&P.
  • I go back and forth in my mind on these 'alternative hedging' funds. But I think, Ted, comparing them to an all equity index misses the point why people by them.

    I own one such fund, RGHVX. My goal is to get equity like returns or even be okay with slightly less over time with a more stable ride with downside protection. Much the same reason people buy standard equity/bond balanced funds. So with that, a better question for these alternative funds would be - do they give better returns then funds like FPACX, MAPOX or PRWCX?

    The answer so far has been no. WBMAX has underperformed most balanced funds in it's short existence, but it may be to early to judge. You can say the same about other alternative board favorites like MFLDX. It also has underperformed the typical balanced fund. So the quandary, at least in my mind, why not just stick with a well managed balanced fund? Newer ideas don't always work out to be better ideas.
  • These kind of funds don't do very well in flat markets. If one is thinking the markets will go down from here, they can offer downside protection.
  • Nothing does well in flat markets. I wouldn't buy one of these funds only because markets are going down. These funds will go down too, albeit less (maybe).

    In my mind, the only reason to own them is to get adequate returns over a market cycle with less turbulence. But again, the question is are they any better than a balanced fund? So far the answer is no.
  • "But again, the question is are they any better than a balanced fund?"

    That has been the million dollar question in a couple of threads talking about different funds. The premise this time around is that a equity bear market might be coupled with a bear market in fixed income. The bond side might be more secular than the equity side. So a balanced fund would not help in this kind of scenario.

    The other threads have touched on these alt funds and Unconstrained bond funds.
  • edited October 2014
    A bit dated, but FWIW...

    Will be interesting to reassess at the three year mark, which is couple months away...I believe they will rank just above "average" in the long/short category, which as Scott points out is pretty diverse.

    Here's snapshot since its inception:

    I remain heavy WBMIX and a fan of Whitebox. They has lived up to their word regarding openness of fund strategy, communication with shareholders, consistency in implementation, and elimination of loads. Its er is low for the category, but it could be lower.
  • I don't think you can compare this fund to the S&P.

    If fund does not perform well in any given time period it is bird that cannot fly and deserves to be eaten. I think.

  • Only thing in my portfolio up today.
  • I got into WBMAX looking for an alternative to MFLDX when I saw its AUM skyrocketing. I haven't been exactly thrilled with it's performance, but it does seem to be behaving as expected, so I'm satisfied.

    MFLDX, on the other hand, has been absolutely horrifying. Not at all what I was expecting even with the asset bloat. Mediocre is one thing, but down over 11% YTD?

    The FAIRX blowup was painful, but it's not something I find surprising given the bets Berkowitz has been making, and I expect I'll probably be adding to my position there before long.
  • Correction...HCP was also up. Actually, it has been strongest holding during recent chaos.
  • edited October 2014
    Charles said:

    Correction...HCP was also up. Actually, it has been strongest holding during recent chaos.

    REITs have held up quite well over the last few days. O has done very well, as has WPC and BPY (although BPY is a real estate MLP.) O actually up about 4.5% last 5 days, I'm guessing people looking for what they believe is safe harbor.
  • WBMIX up again today, strong at 0.88%.

    As was HCP. again...very strong at 1.87%.

    Surprised that OAK has not held up better last couple days, given its financial strength and very strong dividend.
  • Thinking about this subject this weekend and I have a question or two. It seems to me that the benefit of these long-short funds only shows itself if one invests a large amount or all of their portfolio. Having 10 or 20% does not benefit the portfolio in a meaningful way.

    On the bond side, how much percentage of your portfolios would you place in fixed income during a bear market? Also would a balanced portfolio of 50% fixed income and 50% L/S funds be a mix that might work? I am not thinking of doing that but just throwing the question out there.

    Have a great weekend to all.
  • Honestly regarding this type of funds, market neutral and long-short included, do those that invest in them own a position large enough to offset what is going on with the rest of their portfolio? Specifically, what was/is the overall impact on a down day when taken in total?

    I just don't see investors having the same ownership conviction in this grouping of funds that they might have in the more traditional types of funds rendering their effect as just noise on any given day and lackluster most of the time. Why bother.
  • I could possibly see someone in these funds during a bear market but for other times they would be taking a hit on performance. The other factor are the expense ratios which are much higher usually.
  • @Mark and JohnChisum. Tend to agree on all points. Currently, at 27%, but have had it over 30%. I could see it going higher, depending on the environment...and if they continue to reduce er.
  • edited October 2014
    I'm close to 13%. It helps to dampen volatility and is supposed to be "less" correlated to the market.

    For an quick and dirty view, on a day when my benchmark is down 1.4%, my portofolio was down 1.1%

    BPLEX continues to be the cream of the crop: up 5% YTD
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