Ten rising star hedge funds with surprisingly small AUMs. These managers are worth watching in 2021.


As I’ve written about previously, small hedge funds tend to outperform large hedge funds. The famous managers typically gained their reputations when their funds were small and they were more aggressive. But as a fund’s managed assets swell, it’s forced to focus on more liquid, less profitable stocks. The manager also tends to be more intent on raising capital than aggressively pursuing capital gains. Below are rising star hedge funds that are small, but have shown exceptional performance. They may not be small for long.

Here is a list of 10 hedge funds whose stock picks have consistently outperformed , yet their funds still have long holdings of less than $1B.
QuarterFundCity# Holdings13F MVTurnover% in top 10QoQ Perf Eq Wt1 Yr Perf Ann3 Yr Perf AnnEarliest 13F
Q3 2020DORSEY ASSET MANAGEMENTCHICAGO11673,027,0009.09%98.41%22.94%59.53%31.92%12/30/16
Q3 2020VALLEY FORGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENTWAYNE10921,599,000100.00%2.43%25.78%25.13%12/30/16
Q3 2020CROSSLINK CAPITAL INCMENLO PARK25468,801,00069.96%17.52%47.73%30.27%3/30/01
Q3 2020NIGHT OWL CAPITAL MANAGEMENTGREENWICH31480,354,0009.68%62.99%4.81%49.63%30.73%12/30/07
Q3 2020KAYAK INVESTMENT PARTNERSSAN FRANCISCO30732,095,00040.00%63.23%12.02%75.36%31.02%12/30/16
Q3 2020OAKMONT CORPLOS ANGELES27963,878,00018.52%90.51%11.36%36.01%18.05%3/30/01
Q3 2020CYPRESS FUNDS LLCLOS ANGELES16935,699,0006.25%71.76%11.22%57.52%25.56%3/30/01
Q3 2020FIRST LIGHT ASSET MANAGEMENTEDINA60975,979,00030.00%57.90%12.99%52.35%33.05%12/30/13
Q3 2020ANCIENT ART, L.P.AUSTIN20728,973,00035.00%86.84%26.62%41.34%22.31%12/30/07
Q3 2020GREENBRIER PARTNERS CAPITALDALLAS15842,594,00091.92%7.69%24.14%17.40%12/30/11

Heading this list of little funds with big performance is Dorsey Asset Management, LLC. The Chicago-based firm is run by Pat Dorsey, who has gained notoriety for his emphasis on “moats” in his value investing approach. He’s the author of two books:  The Five Rules for Successful Stock Investing and The Little Book that Builds Wealth. In a previous article, I discussed that Dorsey has identified four types of moats — competitive business advantages — that he uses to inform his stock picking.

Intangible Assets 
Switching Costs 
Network Effects 
Cost Advantages 

Pat Dorsey uses “moats” as a framework to analyze a company’s competitive advantage.

One might be inclined to dismiss the moat idea as simplistic. But Dorsey’s track record suggests otherwise. The annualized three-year performance of Dorsey’s 13F filings (top 10 long portfolio holdings, equal-weight, rebalanced quarterly) was 31.92% through Q3’s end. (Q4 13F filings will be reported on Feb. 15.) One year performance through Q3 was 59.53%. These returns lead the hedge fund pack, not just for small funds, but for all funds. WhaleWisdom gives Dorsey Asset Management a WhaleScore of 100 — as good as it gets.

Yet Dorsey’s hedge fund has AUM of only $688M, the great majority of which is reported in 13F filings. (Suggesting the hedge fund does minimal hedging.) Dorsey runs a very concentrated portfolio, consisting of just 11 stocks at Q3’s end.

Shares Held13F Mkt Value% PortfolioRank% ChgQtr 1st OwnedEst Avg Price PaidRecent PriceSource
FB606,612$158,872,00023.611-5%Q4 2016152.9273.169/30/2011/13/20
WIX410,415$104,594,00015.54229%Q3 2018142.11249.969/30/2011/13/20
GOOG46,947$68,993,00010.2532%Q1 20171,122.531,751.889/30/2011/13/20
UPWK3,950,351$68,894,00010.2444%Q2 202014.5634.529/30/2011/13/20
ROKU303,373$57,277,0008.515-11%Q4 2019121.71332.029/30/2011/13/20
PYPL254,341$50,113,0007.4562%Q2 201892.46234.29/30/2011/13/20
EBAY871,076$45,383,0006.747NewQ3 202052.150.259/30/2011/13/20
SMAR889,987$43,983,0006.548-45%Q2 202050.9269.299/30/2011/13/20
AVLR293,390$37,360,0005.5592%Q2 201973.61164.899/30/2011/13/20
DESP4,223,698$26,863,0003.9910-8%Q1 201912.5412.819/30/2011/13/20
AYX94,189$10,695,0001.5911-55%Q3 2019103.38121.799/30/2011/13/20

Valley Forge Capital Management has generated great returns since 2016, but has only $920M in 13F securities.

Another small fund with a concentrated portfolio and very impressive performance is Valley Forge Capital Management. I’d wager there aren’t any other hedge funds based in Wayne, Indiana. Valley Forge’s founder and Portfolio Manager is Dev Kantesaria. According to the firm’s ADV part 2.

The investment objective of the Fund is to outperform the S&P 500 Index over a multi-year timeframe through the selection of companies that the Firm believes are trading at a large discount (in the case of long equity positions) or premiums (in the case of short equity positions) to their intrinsic value.

Since 2017, when Valley Forge first filed a 13F, Kantesaria has achieved this goal — and then some. Valley Forge’s three year annual performance was 25.13% through Q3. Since 2017, an equal-weight portfolio of the fund’s top 10 long holdings has averaged a 29.46% return. The fund’s largest holding was S&P Global inc. (SPGI), representing 24.81% of the fund’s 13F portfolio as of the quarter’s end.

Despite the great returns, the fund had just $921M in 13F securities in Q3.

Edina, MN-based First Light Asset Management is a rising star hedge fund in the world of health care investing. The hedge fund was founded in 2013 by Matt Arens, who is also the firm’s CEO and Senior Portfolio Manager.

First Light Asset Management is a rising star hedge fund in the health care sector.

Arens runs a diversified portfolio consisting of 60 stocks as of Q3’s close. Although, 57.90% of the portfolio was invested in its top 10 holdings. The #1 position was Immunomedics Inc. (IMMU), accounting for 13.75% of the fund’s long portfolio at quarter’s end.

In the fund’s ADV part 2, the First Light references margin of safety as a key investment consideration.

Risk Management
A key tenet of [the fund’s] investment process is assessing the margin of safety in prospective investments, and therefore risk management starts at the position level. First Light views risk as potential for permanent impairment of capital and not the volatility of a security. First Light seeks to manage risk through fundamental analysis and disciplined portfolio construction, and in general will re-allocate capital to what it believes are the best risk/reward scenarios. [The fund] believes its probability weighted approach to stock selection also adequately accounts for individual stock risks and therefore position weightings reflect this implied risk.


This investment blog (the “Blog”) is created and authored by Mark W. Gaffney (the “Content Creator”). The Blog is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only (collectively, the “Blog Service”). The information in the Blog constitutes the Content Creator’s own opinions. None of the information contained in the Blog constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You understand that the Content Creator is not advising, and will not advise you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, investment strategy or other matter. To the extent any of the information contained in the Blog may be deemed to be investment advice, such information is impersonal and not tailored to the investment needs of any specific person.

From time to time, the Content Creator or its affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog. The Content Creator or affiliates may trade for their own account(s) based on the information presented, and may also take positions inconsistent with the views expressed in its messages on the Blog.

The Content Creator may hold licenses with FINRA, the SEC or states securities authorities. These licenses may not be disclosed by the content creator in the Blog.

Investing in the investments discussed in the Blog may be risky and speculative. The companies may have limited operating histories, little available public information. The stocks discussed may be volatile and illiquid. Trading in such securities can result in immediate and substantial losses of the capital invested. You should only invest risk capital not required for other purposes, such as retirement savings, student loans, mortgages or education.

Full Disclaimer.