Hedge Fund and Insider Trading News: Bill Ackman, Starboard Value, Eaton Vance Senior Income Trust (EVF), Bank of Marin Bancorp (BMRC), and More

Hedge Funds from Pershing to Blue Harbour Win on Activism (Pensions&Investments)
Many of the biggest activist hedge funds saw blockbuster returns last year as concentrated wagers on companies from fast-food restaurants to real estate paid off. Bill Ackman‘s Pershing Square Holdings posted its best performance on record in its publicly traded hedge fund, climbing 58%, while Christopher Hohn‘s The Children’s Investment Fund notched its largest gain since 2013. Funds led by Alex Denner, Clifton Robbins and Jonathan Litt surged more than 30%, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Starboard Builds Stake in Merit Medical Systems (Bloomberg)
Activist investor Starboard Value has built a position in Merit Medical Systems Inc. and plans to meet with management to discuss ways to improve the performance of the device manufacturer, according to people familiar with the matter. The New York-based hedge fund run by Jeff Smith has built a roughly 9% stake in the company and believes it’s undervalued, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. It’s unclear what sort of changes Starboard may push for. Starboard confirmed the stake in a regulatory filing Monday. Representatives for Starboard and Merit Medical couldn’t be reached for comment. Merit Medical, based in South Jordan, Utah, have fallen about 35% over the past year. It cut its financial guidance in July, blaming foreign exchange headwinds, changes in its product mix and its acquisition last year of BridgeWater Medical Inc.

For Under Armour, Is The Only Way Through? (Forbes)
As Under Armour founder and chairmen Kevin Plank unveiled a new brand message – “The Only Way is Through” – SEC filings revealed that in the last quarter a hedge fund made a significant bet on Under Armour’s future performance. Lone Pine Capital LLC purchased a nearly 7% stake in the company.

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Hedge Funds Could Make One Potential Fed Repo-Market Fix Hard to Stomach (The Wall Street Journal)
One hurdle to a possible fix for recent volatility in the short-term cash markets: hedge funds. Federal Reserve officials are considering a new tool to ease stresses in the market for Treasury repurchase agreements, or repos. Through the repo market, banks and hedge funds borrow cash overnight, while pledging safe securities such as government bonds as collateral. In September, an unexpected shortage of available cash to lend sparked a surge in the cost of repo-market borrowing, prompting the Fed to intervene for the first…

Hedge Funds Up 8.58 per cent in 2019, Recording Their Strongest Year Since 2013 (Hedge Week)
Hedge fund managers were up 1.52 per cent in December, pushing their year-to-date return to 8.58 per cent. The official announcement of the completion of the US-China phase-one deal provided support to risk assets, pushing the global equity market higher during the month. The MSCI ACWI (Local) was up 23.44 per cent in 2019. On an asset-weighted basis, hedge funds were up 1.53 per cent in December, as captured by the Mizuho Eurekahedge Hedge Fund Index (USD). The index was up 6.90 per cent throughout the year.

A Stunning Year on Most Fronts (Hedge Nordic)
Stockholm (HedgeNordic) – Danish long/short equity fund Symmetry Invest joined the Nordic Hedge Index only last year, despite portfolio manager Andreas Aaen having already several years of track record under his belt. Symmetry Invest was among the best-performing Nordic hedge funds in 2019 with a return of 44.4 percent. “2019 was a stunning year for us on most fronts,” Aaen summarizes the year. Symmetry Invest, which predominantly searches for founder-led companies in the European small- and mid-cap space, delivered a net return of 44.4 percent last year with an average net exposure of 73.3 percent during the year. Aaen separates the year into two parts.