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Cathie Wood's ARKK falls 60% from its peak, erasing all post-pandemic gains

A broad sell-off in technology stocks has dragged Cathie Wood’s main Ark Invest fund into the gutter – and it looks like it will take a long time for the popular ETF to dig itself out.

The average holding in Ark Innovation (ARKK), Ark Investment Management’s namesake flagship exchange-traded fund, is currently down over 70% from its five-year high, according to fresh data from market research firm Bespoke Investment Group. The rout in ARKK’s portfolio brings the investment vehicle 60% below its peak in February 2021.

Shares of ARKK were down 4.7% Wednesday to $56.89 as of 2:23 p.m. ET.

Without Tesla (TSLA), Ark Innovation’s largest holding and a relative outperformer compared to other components in the fund, the picture would be even worse. The electric-vehicle maker has fallen only 16.4% from its high on Nov. 4 as of Tuesday’s close — a substantial loss of its value but far less severe than the losses in ARKK’s other stocks. Digital biology company Berkeley Lights (BLI), for example, is down over 94% from its five-year high.

When taking into consideration the broader declines, Tesla, which comprises about 10.4% of all holdings, has kept the fund from falling even lower.

Moreover, Ark Invest continues to bet heavily that Tesla will help it reach its lofty promises to investors. Earlier this week, Ark Investment Management boosted its already-hefty $3,000 price target on the electric-vehicle maker to $4,600 by 2026, citing its prospective robotaxi business and expectations the company will become more capital efficient. The firm’s bear case for Tesla alone is $2,900 by 2026, roughly three times its current share price and the bull case sees Tesla at $5,800.

“Although tuned to our expectations for 2026, we believe our Tesla model is methodologically conservative,” Ark analyst Tasha Keeney said in a recent research note. “We assume that Tesla’s stock will trade like a mature company rather than a high-growth one in 2026.”

The average holding in Cathie Wood's flagship ARK Innovation fund is currently down over 70% from its high.
The average holding in Cathie Wood's flagship ARK Innovation fund is currently down over 70% from its high. (Bespoke Investment Group)

Of all the stocks in ARKK, nearly half have fallen by at least 75% from their five-year highs, per Bespoke’s data, and only one is positive on the year — Signify Health (SGFY). Bespoke Investment also pointed out that the average stock in the ETF needs to rally 348% to get back to prior highs.

“I'm thinking about our clients,” Wood said in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance Live. “They have felt the full force of this decline, and yet we inflowed last year, and we're inflowing this year, and I think that has been shocking to a lot of counterparts out there, who have gone through periods, like we've just experienced, and have had massive outflows.”

“I think a few things are at work,” Wood added. “Number one, our long term time horizon is practically the first thing we say, when we're talking to prospective investors.”

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 7: Cathie Wood, chief executive officer and chief investment officer, Ark Invest, gestures as she speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 Conference at Miami Beach Convention Center on April 7, 2022 in Miami, Florida. The world's largest bitcoin conference runs from April 6-9, expecting over 30,000 people in attendance and over 7 million live stream viewers worldwide.(Photo by Marco Bello/Getty Images)

Wood repeatedly emphasized that a critical feature of Ark’s investment strategy is that it focuses on a five-year time horizon, even calling the 12-18 month time horizon of most traditional asset managers “short-sighted.”

Ark rose to fame when the fund returned 150% in 2020, but the fund has since erased its post-pandemic gains.

Its struggling performance also prompted Morningstar to downgrade its rating on ARKK from Neutral to Negative last month, citing issues with the fund's risk management and ability to navigate the space it aims to explore.

“The firm favors companies that are often unprofitable and whose stock prices are highly correlated,” Morningstar strategist Robby Greengold wrote in a note. “Rather than gauge the portfolio’s aggregate risk exposures and simulate their effects during a variety of market conditions, the firm uses its past as a guide to the future and views risk almost exclusively through the lens of its bottom-up research into individual companies.”

“Wood has suggested that risk management lies not with her but with those who invest in ARK’s funds. It’s tough to see why that should be so,” Greengold wrote. “ARK could do more to avert severe drawdowns of wealth, and its carelessness on the topic has hurt many investors of late. It could hurt more in the future.”

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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