May 6th will be remembered as the day the DJIA dropped 1,000. For days, market commentators blamed electronic traders and bulge bracket banks including Citigroup, but today culprit Waddell and Reed was discovered. Waddell and Reed is one of the oldest mutual fund managers in the United States. The firm sold 75,000 e-mini future contracts on the S&P500, throwing the market into a tail spin. Barclays executed the trade in one single trade, instead of breaking it up into 100 or 1,000 different orders. The negligence on Barclays’ part is mostly to blame, since one can’t blame Waddell for hedging. We can see today, that Waddell was in the right, as the Euro fell past 1.24.
Waddell’s sell order briefly wiped out $1 trillion from the U.S. equity markets in a 20 minute period. Over that period, over 840,000 e-mini contract futures were traded by firms including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Jump Trading, Interactive Brokers, and Citadel. Procter & Gamble fell almost 30% in 10 minutes, as shown above. (Source: ZeroHedge)
According to MarketWatch, “In response to inquiries and published reports, Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. today issued the following statement:
On May 6, as on many trading days, Waddell & Reed executed several trading strategies, including index futures contracts, as part of the normal operation of our flexible portfolio funds. Such trades often are executed in response to market activity, and are undertaken to protect fund investors from downside risk. We use futures trading as part of this strategy, broadly known as hedging. This is a longstanding and well monitored practice in certain of our investment portfolios. We believe we were among more than 250 firms that traded the “e-mini” security during the timeframe the market sold off.
Quotes attributed to executives at the CME and the CFTC note that Waddell & Reed has executed trades of this size previously, and indicate that we are a “bona fide hedger” and not someone intending to disrupt the markets. Further, CME noted that they identified no trading activity that contributed to the break in the equity market during this period. Like many market participants, Waddell & Reed was affected negatively by the market activity of May 6.
About the Company
Waddell & Reed, Inc., founded in 1937, is one of the oldest mutual fund complexes in the United States, having introduced the Waddell & Reed Advisors Group of Mutual Funds in 1940. Today, we distribute our investment products through the Waddell & Reed Advisors channel (our network of financial advisors), our Wholesale channel (encompassing broker/dealer, retirement, registered investment advisors as well as the activities of our Legend subsidiary), and our Institutional channel (including defined benefit plans, pension plans and endowments, as well as the activities of ACF and our subadvisory partnership with Mackenzie in Canada).
Through its subsidiaries, Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. provides investment management and financial planning services to clients throughout the United States. Waddell & Reed Investment Management Company serves as investment advisor to the Waddell & Reed Advisors Group of Mutual Funds, Ivy Funds Variable Insurance Portfolios, Inc. and Waddell & Reed InvestEd Portfolios, Inc., while Ivy Investment Management Company serves as investment advisor to Ivy Funds, Inc. and the Ivy Funds portfolios. Waddell & Reed, Inc. serves as principal underwriter and distributor to the Waddell & Reed Advisors Group of Mutual Funds, Ivy Funds Variable Insurance Portfolios, Inc. and Waddell & Reed InvestEd Portfolios, Inc., while Ivy Funds Distributor, Inc. serves as principal underwriter and distributor to Ivy Funds, Inc. and the Ivy Funds portfolios.”