UPDATE 1-Paulson's gold fund tumbles more, other portfolios mixed in February

Thu Mar 7, 2013 4:51pm EST
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By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON, March 7 (Reuters) - Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson lost more money in February when his gold fund suffered double-digit losses as the metal and gold mining stocks extended losses.

Paulson's three-year old Gold Fund, with roughly $800 million in assets, tumbled 18 percent last month and is now down 26 percent this year, two people familiar with the numbers said.

While the gold fund is the smallest within the New York-based firm's lineup, its heavy losses are grabbing big headlines at a time Paulson appears far more bullish on the shiny metal than many other investors.

For months Paulson's has stuck by his biggest single investment in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, where he owned 21.8 million shares at the end of the fourth quarter. But clearly other investors became jittery in February when a 3.8 percent price drop was accompanied by an outflow of 70 tonnes, more than 5 percent of the ETF's holdings. This marked the biggest monthly outflow since 2004.

Analysts said they did not know who was selling but according to past regulatory filings Northern Trust Corp, JP Morgan Chase & Co and Bank of America were all large owners.

Paulson grew the firm into an industry giant by taking contrarian bets like the wager he made against the overheated housing market in 2007 that netted him roughly $4 billion. He scored more big gains on his gold investments in 2010.

Despite the sharp decline in gold prices, Paulson is sticking with his thesis that inflation will pick up at some point in the future when the metal can be a hedge.   Continued...