As the market plunged, a small group of veteran investors were still buying. Howard Marks, co-founder and co-chairman of Oaktree Capital, is one of those veterans. Marks, who made a fortune during the financial crisis loading up on distressed corporate debt, is continuing to add positions in order to take advantage of the cheap asset prices arising from the free fall that gripped markets over the past week. “We’re adding to positions,” Marks told Business Insider, stating that, “We’re buying every day. We’re endeavoring to be fully invested, but with caution.”
How Oaktree Made Billions During The Financial Crisis
|Bought $10 billion position in falling market, $650 million per week|
|Oaktree investors made $6 billion|
|Billionaire Marks and his partners made $1.5 billion|
Source: Business Insider
He’s not alone. AlphaOne Capital’s founding partner Dan Niles is also taking the market pullback as a buying opportunity. “Toward the end of the day today, we started covering a lot of our shorts and started to actually pick up some longs,” Niles told CNBC on Wednesday. He added, “We love seeing the panic on the Street.” (To read more, see: Market Rout Ends Growth Stocks’ 10-Year Reign.)
What It Means for Investors
Contrary to the view of many Wall Street experts who, wary of an overstretched market, have been persistently calling for an imminent collapse, Marks’ own outlook is much less dire. To be sure, he’s not brimming with optimism, but he thinks the current market does not require the extreme defensive mentality that seems to have taken hold of many market participants in the last week. He continues to buy, believing that optimism will return, and only when that optimism becomes extreme will it become time to think about selling.
While the climate today is perhaps not as extreme, the strategy of selling when the market has reached extreme bullishness and buying when everyone else is frantically selling, is precisely the one that made him a fortune during the financial crisis. In the depths of that crisis, when everyone else was running scared, Marks and his partner Bruce Karsh began buying up billions of dollars worth of distressed corporate debt. After several months of hard buying, Marks and Karsh built up a position worth $10 billion, which ultimately netted Oaktree investors about $6 billion when the debt rebounded. Marks and his partners came away with $1.5 billion.
While Niles would agree with Marks that there is no reason to panic and that the market selloff represents some bargain opportunities, his perspective suggests that investors avoid assets that could be negatively affected by a trade war with China. “We’re trying to find names that don’t have China exposure, that don’t really get impacted by tariffs,” he said. He likes Alphabet Inc. (GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and AT&T Inc. (T).
Bargains in a Down Market
Source: Alpha One Capital Partners, CNBC
Further declines in the market will provide even more opportunity for value buyers look for equities and bargain prices. But just because an asset looks cheap doesn’t mean it’s a bargain; investors will still need to find value in strong fundamentals, and may have to be willing a period of market upheavals before being rewarded.