Form 13F filings for major financial firms became available earlier this week, and much of the buzz around the top money managers has to do with their stock picks over the past few months. Somewhat less prominent in the ongoing analysis of the SEC filings of top hedge funds, though, is the fact that at least two prominent billionaire money managers maintained faith in gold, in spite of the fact that increased interest rates threaten to trim gains for the precious metal. Billionaires Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates and John Paulson of Paulson & Co. each made few if any changes to their holdings related to gold in Q1.
Dalio Keeps GLD Shares
Ray Dalio's Bridgewater preserved its stake in SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), the largest exchange-traded product linked to gold bullion. He also held fast in his position of iShares Gold Trust (IAU), the second-largest ETF related to gold. By comparison, Paulson & Co. had 4.32 million shares of GLD at the end of March of this year, down from 4.36 million as of the end of the previous quarter. Paulson slightly trimmed his holdings, while Dalio made no substantial changes.
Across the first quarter of the new year, gold climbed by 1.7%, while at the same time the dollar weakened for a fifth straight quarter, according to Bloomberg. This discrepancy may have aided gold in its attempts to withstand the impact of increased U.S. borrowing costs. SPDR Gold also saw net inflows of just under $400 million during that same period. Together, this helped to bring holdings in all gold-backed ETFs to the highest levels since 2013.
Paulson Returned Client Capital
Toward the end of the first quarter, rumors circulated that Paulson's gold and special situations hedge funds were returning capital to clients while the firm attempted to focus its investment strategy more narrowly. Paulson's fund has seen its assets shrink from $38 billion in 2011 to under $10 billion today.
Of course, it is difficult to say whether or not Dalio, Paulson and others have maintained their positions in gold-backed ETFs and similar investment vehicles at this point. Form 13F must be submitted within 45 days of the end of the quarter, meaning that the information is often out of date by the time it becomes available to the general public. Further, although all money managers overseeing at least $100 million in the U.S. are required by the SEC to submit 13Fs, these filings do not include non-U.S. securities, cash or non-publicly traded holdings, meaning that they offer a glimpse of just a portion of a hedge fund's full investment interests and portfolio at any given time.