For Cathie Wood's ARK Invest, a fund company known for its focus on innovation stocks and high price targets, the new year didn't bring a fresh start in terms of performance.
The company's flagship exchange-traded fund, the ARK Innovation exchange-traded fund (ticker: ARKK), suffered its worst day in trading since September 3, 2020, when it lost 7.1 percent. All of ARK's other exchange-traded funds (ETFs), including the most recent, ARK Transparency (CTRU), which was launched in December, are also in the red.
Growth stocks fell on Wednesday following the release of the latest minutes from the Federal Reserve's December policy meeting, which suggested that the central bank's rate increases may be implemented sooner and more aggressively than the market had anticipated.
Investors were alarmed when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell changed his tone to emphasize the risks of inflation after months of describing rising prices as "transitory." The shift came as a new Covid-19 variant was spreading across the country and causing supply-chain disruptions, causing panic among investors.
The S&P 500 fell by 2 percent in the final two hours of trading on Wednesday, growth stocks within the index fell by 3 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell by 3.3 percent.
While the ARK ETFs were among the worst-performing funds on Wednesday, they were not the worst-performing funds overall. Aside from ARK Innovation, ARK Genomic Revolution (ARKG) was down 7.1 percent, ARK Fintech Innovation (ARKF) was down 6.6 percent, and ARK Next Generation Internet (ARKW) was down 6.2 percent in the same period. In addition to blockchain and cannabis stocks, clean energy and technology stocks were all in the red on Friday afternoon.
Following on from ARK funds' year-long struggle, they suffered yet another setback on Wednesday. ETFs in the ARK family were among the best-performing funds in 2020, with an average gain of 150 percent as the pandemic accelerated the adoption of many emerging platforms and technologies owned by the companies in the funds' portfolios.
But since reaching their zenith in February 2021, the funds have been falling rapidly, erasing nearly all of their gains from the previous year. Rising inflation has made the future cash flow of growth-oriented innovation companies less valuable today, and investors have sought safer havens such as cheaply traded cyclical stocks in order to maximize their returns on their investments.
With the Federal Reserve's hawkish pivot, it appears that the volatility in growth stocks and ARK funds will continue in the foreseeable future. However, if inflation can be kept under control following the Federal Reserve's tightening policy in 2022, innovation stocks may experience a brief rebound—though this will not happen anytime soon.