Pimco Opens Long-Short Fund Under Ex-Catamount Manager

Pimco Co-chief Investment Officer Bill Gross
Bill Gross, co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

Pacific Investment Management Co., the bond manager that in 2009 made a push into stocks, said it’s opening its long-short equity fund to investors.

Pimco EqS Long/Short Fund aims to let investors participate in the returns of long-term stock ownership while seeking to limit losses when markets turn bearish by holding cash or selectively betting against securities, according to a statement today from the Newport Beach, California-based firm.

Geoffrey Johnson, who joined Pimco in April from Catamount Capital Management LLC, runs the fund, which uses the same investment process as a hedge fund Johnson managed since 2003. Long-short is the fourth equity strategy for Pimco, in addition to “deep value” global stocks, emerging-market equities and dividend-paying stocks.

“It brings a nice balance of capital appreciation and capital preservation,” Johnson said in a telephone interview. “We can smooth out some of the volatility that has been the hallmark of the market for the past decade.”

The fund generally has long positions in about 20 global stocks, Johnson said. Pimco EqS Long/Short Fund combines the firm’s global macroeconomic views with stock-picking by its portfolio managers.

Stock Expansion

Pimco, known for its bond funds run by Bill Gross, began expanding into other asset classes including stocks more than two years ago to reduce its reliance on traditional fixed-income products. The firm in December 2009 hired Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official, to oversee the move into equities.

Pimco has said it will pursue equity strategies with a global focus, in line with its “new normal” philosophy adopted in May 2009 to describe an era of lower returns, heightened government regulation, diminishing U.S. clout in the world economy and a bigger role for developing nations.

“We look at the economy and see macroeconomic risks,” Kashkari said in a telephone interview. “It’s critical to limit the downside risks to generate good attractive returns.”

Pimco EqS Long/Short Fund trades under the symbol PMHIX and has a management fee of 1.4 percent for institutional shares.

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