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The Street
The Street
Dan Weil

Cathie Wood dumps shares of top cryptocurrency stock

Cathie Wood, head of Ark Investment Management, is doing quite well in the fame game.

Known to her devotees as Mama Cathie, Wood rocketed to prominence thanks to a stupendous return of 153% in 2020 and clear presentations of her investment philosophy in ubiquitous media appearances.

But her longer-term returns are less stellar. Wood’s flagship Ark Innovation ETF  (ARKK) , with $7.9 billion in assets, has generated a buoyant return of 40% for the last 12 months. But the annualized return is negative 26% for the past three years and a mere positive 2% for five years.

That’s nothing to brag about, as the S&P 500 posted positive returns of 36% for one year, 11% for three years and 15% for five years. Wood’s goal is for at least 15% annual returns over five-year periods.

Cathie Wood, investor with a large following.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Cathie Wood’s Investment Philosophy

Wood’s investment strategy isn’t hard to fathom. Ark’s ETFs generally buy young, small-company stocks in the high-tech categories of artificial intelligence, blockchain, DNA sequencing, energy storage, and robotics. She views those areas as game changers for the global economy.

Related: Cathie Wood sells almost 135,000 shares of a top crypto stock

These stocks are quite volatile, of course, so the Ark funds are subject to rollercoaster rides. And Wood frequently trades in and out of her top names.

Investment research titan Morningstar is quite critical of Wood and Ark Innovation ETF. “ARK Innovation has dubious ability to successfully navigate the challenging territory it explores,” Morningstar analyst Robby Greengold wrote last year.

The potential of Wood’s five high-tech platforms listed above is “compelling,” he said. “But Ark’s ability to spot the winners among them and navigate their myriad risks is less so. The strategy’s booms and busts have culminated in middling total returns and extreme volatility since its 2014 inception.”

It’s not an investment 101 portfolio. “The strategy narrowly invests in stocks with paltry current earnings, elevated valuations, and highly correlated stock prices,” Greengold said. “Their extreme volatility underscores their highly uncertain futures.”

Wood has defended herself from Morningstar’s criticism. “I do know there are companies like that one [Morningstar] that do not understand what we're doing,” she told Magnifi Media by Tifin in 2022.

“We do not fit into their style boxes. And I think style boxes will become a thing of the past, as technology blurs the lines between and among sectors.”

But some of Wood’s customers apparently agree with Morningstar. During Ark Innovation’s rally of the past 12 months, it saw a net investment outflow of $1.3 billion.

Wood’s Trades Tuesday

On Tuesday, Ark funds sold 106,000 shares of Coinbase Global  (COIN) , the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, worth $27.2 million as of that day’s close.

Fund manager buys and sells:

The stock has almost quintupled over the past 12 months, as cryptocurrencies soared. So Wood may have felt it’s time to take some profits. She has sold Coinbase frequently in recent weeks.

But it still represents the biggest holding in Ark Innovation ETF by far. And Wood is a major cryptocurrency advocate.

On the buy side, Ark funds snagged 45,758 shares of the popular social media company Pinterest  (PINS)  Tuesday, valued at $1.6 million as of that day’s close.

The stock has dropped 16% since Feb. 6, so Wood may see the decline as a buying opportunity. For Pinterest, Morningstar is on the same side as Wood.

“While we don't expect it to displace online advertising behemoths Google and Facebook or up-and-coming Amazon, we expect it to attract a small slice of digital ad spending,” Morningstar analyst Michael Hodel wrote of the company.

Ark funds also purchased 24,024 shares of Roku  (ROKU) , the biggest U.S. streaming platform, worth $1.5 million as of Tuesday’s close.

The stock has plunged about one-third since Feb. 15 amid news that Walmart is buying TV maker Vizio, a major Roku competitor. Strong competition in the streaming industry overall is weighing on Roku too. 

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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