August 9, 2017 / 8:13 PM / 14 days ago

Gundlach's Total Return Bond Fund posts ninth straight month of outflows

Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital, speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2017.Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors pulled $200 million from Jeffrey Gundlach's DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund in July, extending an outflow streak that began in November, according to Morningstar Inc data on Wednesday.

The fund, managed by Gundlach, a closely watched investor, and DoubleLine Capital LP President Philip Barach, has posted outflows of $3.6 billion so far this year. The fund had total assets under management of $53.61 billion as of the end of July, the research service said.

The withdrawals are notable given that other bond funds are swimming in new cash from investors and at a time when the DoubleLine fund's performance has been strong.

Some $203 billion flowed into bond funds in the first half of 2017, and bond funds overall have not recorded a single week of outflows all year, according to the Investment Company Institute, a trade group.

DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund's lower-cost institutional shares were up 3.2 percent this year through Tuesday, beating its benchmark, according to data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper research unit.

"Doubleline Total Return and Core Fixed Income have consistently generated stronger performance records than the Lipper peer average, while incurring below average risk," said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA, in an email. "Both funds have a top five-star ranking from CFRA Research."

Gundlach, who started discussing his views on Twitter in May, in a tweet early Wednesday said that DoubleLine is a top-ranked fund company by net cash inflows this year through July.

Overall, the firm pulled $253 million into its mutual funds and ETFs during July and $2.5 billion this year, ranking 24th of 405 fund families, Morningstar data showed.

"Looks to me DBL Funds are growing significantly," Gundlach wrote on his Twitter account @TruthGundlach.

Gundlach, who as chief executive officer at DoubleLine oversees more than $110 billion in assets, is known on Wall Street as the "Bond King."

Last month, Gundlach sounded a bearish tone and told Reuters he expected gold prices to rise. He also said he initiated an options trade designed to profit if market volatility ramped up.

The CBOE Volatility Index has spiked from 9.4 on July 21 to 11.1 on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korea "will be met with fire and fury" if the nuclear-armed nation threatens the United States.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is already on a path of raising rates and is expected to start unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet this year. The tightening of monetary policy by the Fed and other policymakers globally could erode bond prices.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Gundlach said DoubleLine was "trying to focus on our strategy: growing our other funds." He was referring to the SPDR DoubleLine Total Return Tactical ETF, DoubleLine Core Fixed Income Fund, DoubleLine Shiller Enhanced CAPE, DoubleLine Low Duration Bond Fund, DoubleLine Infrastructure Income Fund and DoubleLine Flexible Income Fund. Those six funds have attracted $5.8 billion this year, according to Morningstar.

"We are marketing our other funds and not DBLTX," Gundlach said. "We are accomplishing exactly what we planned."

DoubleLine Funds President Ron Redell said in an emailed statement that "as our net inflows show, we continue to execute our business objective of manageable growth firmwide, with increasing diversification of our assets under management into our strong-performing line of equity and fixed income strategies."

Gundlach has said repeatedly that he did not want to grow DoubleLine into a monstrous firm. He told Reuters in 2014, when DoubleLine crossed $60 billion in assets under management, that "most people think the definition of success is more. It's gotta be more all the time. There's a quality-of-life aspect and a way of maximizing the probability of success."

Reporting by Jennifer Ablan and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Tom Brown and Leslie Adler

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