Gross’s Next Short Is This China Stock Index – But Not Yet

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Bill Gross's Next Short: Chinese Stocks...But Not Yet

Bill Gross, who in April said a bet against German bunds is the “short of a lifetime,” said the next new opportunity is wagering against Chinese stocks.

Gross’s bet against bunds is now “happening,” he wrote in a Twitter message on Wednesday. “Up next - China Shenzhen index. Not just yet...”

The Shenzhen Composite Index has surged more than 100 percent this year and China’s benchmark stock market is experiencing the world’s biggest rally amid a flood of initial public offerings and record amounts of new investors. The Shenzhen Composite’s price to earnings ratio is 74.5 times, compared with 24.6 times for the Shanghai Composite. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index price to earnings ratio is 18.7 times.

“Future growth doesn’t justify these levels and technically it has similarities to a chain letter,” Gross wrote in an e-mailed message.

“Chinese retail investors are opening up new accounts at a record pace and fueling the almost hyperbolic rise in prices,” he wrote. “At the same time, Chinese exports are slowing and its currency -- the yuan -- is becoming increasingly uncompetitive to other Asian currencies because it is tied to the dollar.”

German Bunds

Gross, who advised selling short the 10-year German bund on April 21, failed to profit even as the move he’d predicted came to fruition. He later acknowledged that his forecast was “well-timed but not necessarily well-executed.”

Gross, who runs the $1.52 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund, made his prediction on the German bunds when it yielded about 10 basis points. Over the next month, yields climbed to 64 basis points as prices fell. His fund lost 2.5 percent in that period as he wagered the bund would trade in a narrow range instead of betting all-out against the debt, data posted on Janus’s website show.

Yields on Germany’s 10-year sovereign debt reached the highest level of this year today at 88 basis points, as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi told investors to get used to volatility. Those declines left investors in European bonds sitting on a year-to-date loss for the first time in 2015.

Gross, 71, was the chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co. until his sudden departure in September, when he jumped to Denver-based Janus. His fund has declined 0.8 percent since he took over Oct. 6, through June 1, trailing 78 percent of peers, according to data from research firm Morningstar Inc.