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ECONOMY | 12-12-2023 09:50

Hedge fund rides Argentina gain, says Milei is underestimated

Brazilian hedge fund manager Vista Capital says Javer Milei is more "political and sensible that many watchers anticipated."

The situation facing Argentina’s Javier Milei has “quickly become quite interesting” as the president softens his rhetoric and prepares to contend with the country’s fractured opposition, according to Brazilian hedge fund manager Vista Capital.

Rio de Janeiro-based Vista, which oversees 4.5 billion reais (US$909 million), built a modest position in ADRs of Argentine banking stocks in the run-up to Milei’s victory over Sergio Massa last month. It has left its holdings unchanged since then, according to a person familiar with the situation, asking not to be named discussing non-public information. 

The fund’s small exposure to the troubled country contributed to a two percent monthly gain in November, according to an investor note. That’s more than double the benchmark CDI overnight rate’s 0.92 percent advance in the span. 

“Post-vote Milei has proved more political and sensible than many watchers anticipated,” the fund wrote, adding that the fact he’s still underestimated “further enhances our drive” to deepen the analysis on the investment thesis. 

Vista declined to comment beyond the letter.

Since defeating Massa, Milei has shifted focus away from some of his most controversial campaign pledges, including a plan to dollarise the economy. Signs of moderation spurred a sharp rally in assets, with the US$103 million Global X MSCI Argentina ETF posting its best month on record in November.

For a new administration looking to deliver on its mandate, the first year tends to hold the most promise — something Milei may take advantage of, Vista said. His administration is expected to unveil its first economic measures on Tuesday. 

Among Brazilian hedge funds, Vista has honed a reputation for profiting off of the wild swings in commodities markets. Its flagship fund now tops all 170 rivals tracked by Bloomberg in the past three months, up 13.6 percent after fees. Year to date, the fund is up 7.8 percent, lagging the 12.4 percent gain for the benchmark CDI overnight rate. 

by Vinícius Andrade, Bloomberg

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