December 21, 2018 / 9:15 PM / 2 months ago

Hedge fund Latimer Light says it is shutting down

BOSTON (Reuters) - Hedge fund Latimer Light Capital, which specialized in picking stocks, is closing its doors, becoming the latest casualty in an industry pummeled by the recent stock market sell-off.

New York-based Latimer Light told investors it plans to shut down in a letter it emailed on Friday, according to people familiar with the matter. A spokesperson for the firm declined to comment.

The firm was founded three years ago by Scott Phillips, who spent nearly a decade working for Stephen Mandel’s Lone Pine Capital, one of the industry’s most respected hedge funds.

Now Phillips joins a growing list of managers in the $3 trillion industry to call it quits as tumbling markets are prompting ever more hedge fund clients to ask for their money back. In the last months Highfields Capital and Tourbillon Capital announced plans to shut down.

Latimer Light had been operating for three years and at the end of last year, the firm had roughly $555 million in capital, according to a regulatory filing.

It invested primarily in stocks of high-growth companies or companies with solid businesses that were under-managed, the regulatory filing said.

At the end of the third quarter it owned computer software and services company PTC Inc., and video game holding company Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. among other stocks, according to another regulatory filing.

This year has been especially tough for hedge funds. The stock market sell-off in the fourth quarter cost many a lot of money and prompted clients to run for the exits.

The average fund lost 2.1 percent in the first 11 months of the year, according to data from Morgan Stanley. For December, the numbers suggest even more pain, with data showing that U.S. funds specializing in stock trading lost 5.5 percent this month.

Not only were hedge funds unable to keep pace with rising markets in recent years but now that stocks are tumbling, fueled by fears about corporate profits and interest rate movements, they failed to protect capital on the downside, industry investors said.

Criterion Management and Frontlight Capital also said recently that they are shutting down. More funds shut down than opened up this year, according to data from Eurekahedge.

Investors said fund managers faced with poor returns and redemptions are now deciding more often to shut down immediately instead of trying to raise cash for redemptions and then trying to raise new money to keep going.

Reporting by Svea Herbst in Boston; Additional reporting by Lawrence Delevingne in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish

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