"Which associate career should I pursue: Private Equity or Hedge Fund?" Second-year investment banking analysts who are just entering the associate recruiting cycle consistently pose this question to me. Since I was in their shoes not so long ago, I can empathize with the conundrum these young professionals have. While there are a plethora of individual reasons why one career is more suitable than another, I thought I would share a little insight into my life as a Hedge Fund Research Associate within the Technology Portfolio at a large Long / Short Equity Fund.
5:45 am: Wake up! Turn on the TV and watch CNBC for 20 minutes before I roll out of bed. Check to see what news has hit the tape: Asia and Europe markets, macro-economic indicators, and futures markets. While I am very intrigued by the overall market, the market structure of my fund requires complete hedging so I only isolate events which will affect my universe of stocks. Today, same store sales data is released. I take note of the retail chains with technology exposure.
6:30 am: Head out for the morning commute. Bring sell-side research papers back to work that I brought home last night to read. I need to call the Goldman Sachs analyst to figure out assumptions used in his Intel model.
7:00 am: Arrive at my desk. Open up Bloomberg, Outlook, and Position Monitor. Quickly check our current positions to make sure there was no substantial overnight move. Skim through the 75 emails I received since yesterday. Every morning at 8:00 am we have a morning meeting with the entire technology team. I need to send an email out highlighting any sell-side or company specific information that was released relating to my universe of stocks. Luckily, most important information is sent directly to me by the sell-side sales reps, investor relations at the respective companies, and Bloomberg alerts -- how did this business work before email?
8:00 am: Attend meeting. Talk about some important notes that were published this morning. For example, the Morgan Stanley analyst has found out through Asian channel checks that Apple has ordered enough supplies to produce 13 million more iPhones for this calendar year, 2 million more than was previously estimated. While I don't cover Apple, my universe includes semiconductor companies that sell to Apple. I am excited to update one of my models because we are long a significant supplier to the IPhone.
8:30 am: Stare at market. Bells kick off and I spend the next 10 minutes watching the
market adjust to the new day while simultaneously watch our positions. Good start to the day, we have already made $70K!
8:40 am: Organize my calendar for the day. I have a management meeting, a call with the Goldman analyst regarding Intel, and two companies reporting after the market.
9:00 am: Gather questions. I have a management meeting today at our office and so I am responsible for forming questions to ask the management team. I read through my notes from the previous earnings conference call, skim over my financial model, and figure out what the sell-side thinks by reading through research reports.
10:30 am: Attend meeting. I throw on my suit jacket and head up to the meeting with my analyst. I hand over a copy of the questions to my analyst, which he combines with some questions of his own. I greet the CFO and IR Director whom I have met at a previous conference. The meeting begins and the analyst and I start digging in.
11:30 am: Update model. Using the information obtained from the meeting, I update our model. I dash into my manager's office with a smile on my face and tell him we need to short more of the company. I tell him what has changed after the meeting and explain how it further justifies our thesis. He agrees and we discuss a long-side hedge to remain market neutral. Finally, after a lengthy discussion, we enter our new trades and update the portfolio.
1:00 pm: Call with Goldman. My goal is determine what assumptions the Goldman analyst is using and how he chose them. After a lengthy debate, I come to the conclusion that the analyst has no great reasons to downgrade Intel except for the fact that he didn't have enough stocks in his "underweight" category. I quickly tell my manager about the call and explain that the stock is trading lower on account of this research report. He agrees and we buy some stock on the recent dip.
3:00 pm: Send out earnings previews. The market closes and we end $2M up on the day. For the last hour, I spend my time writing up earnings previews for the stocks reporting after the close. The earnings preview is a brief summary of our thesis, our current positions, and what we think the company will print.
4:00 pm: Listen to calls. I need to listen to 2 calls in the next hour.
6:00 pm: Send out earnings review. I send out my notes from the call and recommend some tweaks to our positions. I am pretty happy with the outcome despite having mixed prints. We were right on our long position, and it is up 6% after-market, however despite our short printing in-line, managements' outlook was better than expected. The upbeat guidance has pushed the stock towards a 5% after-market gain. In summary, a pretty good earnings day resulting in a net $1M profit on the pair trade.
7:00 pm: Leave! What a busy day, I barely had time to get up from my desk to go to the bathroom! I pack up some reports I didn't get a chance to read during the day and take my laptop with me. I look at my schedule. Next week involves insane travel: Las Vegas for an industry conference, Phoenix to visit fabrication plants, Silicon Valley to meet with ten companies, and finally San Francisco for a sell-side technology conference before I head home. One day at a time; off to the gym.
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