* 2009 profit at 47.6 mln vs net loss of 147 mln stg in 2008
* AuM rises 19 percent to 22.2 billion pounds
* CEO says 'on prowl' for new investment teams
* Shares up 2.89 pct
(Adds further details, CEO comment, share price)
By Raji Menon
LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - UK fund firm Gartmore GRTR.L, which made its market debut in December, swung to a 2009 pretax profit of 47.6 million pounds ($71.34 million) and said it saw strong net inflows in early 2010 into its hedge fund products.
At 0959 GMT, Gartmore shares were up 2.89 percent to 195.5 pence.
Chief Executive Jeffrey Meyer told reporters net inflows in the first two months of the year were 273 million pounds, of which 210 million pounds were in its hedge funds.
"We are very optimistic... and we would expect the level of interest seen in 2009 to continue and perhaps even increase in 2010," he said.
But Meyer said he was cautious about the economic outlook for European countries and the United States and noted that there is a lot of uncertainty around the regulatory regime.
Meyer said those factors could leave markets volatile even though "the underlying fundamentals driven by earnings is quite strong".
Gartmore's pretax profit of 47.6 million pounds, beat the average analyst forecast of 32.1 million pounds and swung from a net loss of 147 million pounds in 2008.
Assets under management (AuM) rose 19 percent to 22.2 billion pounds by the end of December. Net new business was 252 million pounds in 2009 compared with net outflows of 4.8 billion pounds in 2008.
The outflows were mainly due to the fact that Gartmore, unlike other fund firms, did not limit its investors' withdrawals during the height of the market crisis.
Meyer said Gartmore was "on the prowl" for investment teams in currency, macro, even-driven strategies and fixed income.
"Those are probably sweet spots... We are quite proactive in these areas and we are having a number of discussions going on with teams."
Gartmore raised 268 million pounds in its initial public offering, reducing its debt to about 125 million pounds. Net debt was reduced further to 85 million pounds at end-December.
Last week, Schroders (SDR.L) posted a forecast-beating 2009 profit, driven by strong net inflows into its products while rival Henderson HGGH.L reported a 21.5 percent fall in profit. (Editing by Sharon Lindores) ($1=.6672 Pound)