A small hedge fund that says its reports have led to CEO outings has a new big short


Ben Axler

Spruce Point Capital

Ben Axler.

A small short-seller that says its reports have led to the resignation of several CEOs has a new big short.


Ben Axler's Spruce Point Capital Management, a $25 million stock-focused hedge fund, has released a new report on Ultimate Software, a tech company that provides cloud-based human resources software. Short-sellers bet that a company's stock will go down.

Among Spruce Point's reasons for betting against the company: Ultimate Software is "in denial about changes in its competitive landscape" and has the "worst governance" Spruce Point has ever seen, according to a presentation sent to Business Insider.

Axler has been managing his own money for the past few years, but in August started trading with outside money.

A person familiar with the fund declined to provide exact performance figures but said the fund is up since August.


The New York-based firm, with about $25 million under management, is a tiny player in the world of activist hedge funds. By comparison, as of mid-year, Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital managed about $11.5 billion and Jeff Ubben's ValueAct Capital managed about $16.2 billion, according to the Hedge Fund Intelligence Billion Dollar Club ranking.

Still, the firm has drawn attention for its short bets. SumZero, a website for buy-side investors, has previously ranked Spruce Point the number one short-seller on its platform.

Spruce Point has previously released reports on several companies, including Greif, Caesarstone, and the Intertain Group, among others. Spruce Point says that its reports helped prompt the resignations of those firms' CEOs.

Greif's CEO David Fischer resigned in October 2015, Caesarstone's CEO Yos Shiran resigned in May this year and Intertain's CEO John Fitzgerald resigned in June.

Spruce Point has also targeted stocks that have subsequently dropped in value. Greif, for instance, dropped last year, after the Spruce Point posted its report in February 2015 (though the stock has since rallied). Caesarstone is down from its 2015 highs, as is Intertain.


You can view a sampling of the firm's 314-page presentation on its new short below.