Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal published a story that highlighted declining assets under management for "bond king" Jeffrey Gundlach's DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund.
After holding as much as $61.7 billion in assets last September, the fund saw outflows in each of the next nine months and saw that number fall 13% to $53.6 billion as of July 31, according to The Journal. That happened during a time when competing funds took in net inflows of 7.2%, the report said.
The Journal attributed the flagging interest to the fund's slowing outperformance relative to peers. While the Total Return Bond Fund beat 90% of its competition over the previous three- and five-year stretches, it's outpacing them by just 59% in 2017, according to data from Morningstar.
Gundlach was less than thrilled with the story, and he used his Twitter account to voice his displeasure. Here's what he had to say about it hours after publication:
Somewhat surprised WSJ ran a story so pointless, so illogical, so poorly written and -not that it matters- significantly inaccurate. Onward!— Jeffrey Gundlach (@TruthGundlach) August 20, 2017
Gundlach also took issue with the anecdotal evidence The Journal used to support the theme that investors are fleeing his biggest fund. What most drew his ire was the mention of a retired orthodontist in Tucson, Arizona, who's pulled $250,000 from the bond fund over the past 18 months, citing a lack of extra return.
"A retired orthodontist from Tucson pulled 250K over 18 months." Wow. After 3 man-months spent trolling for dirt. Sides hurt from laughing.— Jeffrey Gundlach (@TruthGundlach) August 20, 2017
The story also specifically cited Castle Financial & Retirement Planning Associates as a disenchanted former investor. Not to mention René Bruer, the co-chief executive at Smith Bruer Advisors who reportedly pulled all of his money from the Total Return Bond Fund in 2015 amid concerns of overreliance on Gundlach.
This isn't the first time Gundlach has responded sharply and publicly to reports made by the media. He's had a combative online history with various news outlets since launching his Twitter account this spring, when he took aim at journalists he says misquoted his comments at an investment conference.
It's also not the first time he's had The Journal in his crosshairs. Gundlach got wind of the story in the weeks leading up to its publication, and he was already trying to discredit it before it was released. These four tweets are from last week:
WSJ desperate to populate "anonymous source" DBL hit piece. Now calling new employees. Even called spouse of one last night. Sad but true.— Jeffrey Gundlach (@TruthGundlach) August 17, 2017
Receiving many emails from people the WSJ has approached, all saying they would have nothing to do with their false narrative. Report that.— Jeffrey Gundlach (@TruthGundlach) August 17, 2017
WSJ still at it. Employees from years ago now being approached. Just heard from one within the hour. C'mon WSJ. Try the truth.— Jeffrey Gundlach (@TruthGundlach) August 17, 2017
Time needed to write a real news piece? About an hour. To torture togerther a fake news piece? Well, we're at three man-months & counting.— Jeffrey Gundlach (@TruthGundlach) August 17, 2017
While Gundlach's response to the Journal story doesn't change the data-driven findings included within, it does show that the so-called bond king isn't going to take negative reports lying down.
After all, his outspoken style and strong conviction are part of his appeal to some. And now only time will tell whether he has the last laugh.
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