Phil Mathews, the Sydney-based fund manager nominated by Barron’s as the best performing manager in the world, seems to have made a billion dollars in May alone from oil futures.
It looks like he is now personally worth as much as $2 billion as a result of his incredible oil bet.
That would make him Australia’s 13th richest person, just ahead of Lang Walker and behind John Gandel, except the BRW rich list editors haven’t discovered him yet.
His Sabre Fund ended April with $906 million; it is now worth around $2 billion. He has told me that the three funds he manages are now worth around $3 billion. About two-thirds of the money in the funds is believed to be in his name.
Mathews is not much of a talker, but one of his clients told me, between gusts of happy laughter, how he made a billion dollars from oil futures last month.
Late last year Mathews noticed that 2013 oil futures were trading at a big discount to the spot price, which then was around $US90 a barrel. The oil price is going to rise over the next five years, he believes, not fall, so the price for five-year delivery should be at a premium, not a discount.
Those who know Mathews say that when he gets an idea, he “backs a truck up to it” and bets big, usually with borrowed money. The client we spoke to said: “You’ve got to wear plastic underpants with Phil.”
So when he saw the absurdity of five-year oil trading at a discount to spot, he plunged.
At that point the May 2013 price was around US$80 a barrel against spot of US$90. By the end of May 2008, the spot price had gone to US$120 and the price for May 2013 delivery was at US$140.
It was a ‘whiplash’. While the front month futures contract, or spot price as it’s more commonly called, rose 33 per cent, the 2013 price went up 75 per cent, as long futures moved from a discount to a premium to spot. Has anyone ever made a bigger killing from one bet since George Soros made US$1.1 billion shorting the British pound on September 16, 1992?
Although his 2008 oil futures win has undoubtedly been his biggest, it is the culmination of a six-year story of big bets and mostly wins that has ended up now focusing on energy.
Read the rest of this story at Business Spectator.