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Bill Gross' cat dies; his fund isn't well, either

Bill Gross
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Bill Gross

While it would be understandable if Bill Gross was mourning his firm's results lately, the Pimco founder took time out Thursday to rue the demise of his pet cat.

In his latest monthly investor letter, Gross tackles such hefty and dense subjects as the Sharpe Ratio, the Shiller P/E and a Markowitz portfolio.

His analysis of those and other market measuring sticks are that investment returns are likely to begin to wane, and that fixed income in particular will not be kind to those holding longer-duration bonds. (Gross bet on short-duration bonds in March and lost.)

But first, there was the subject of his cat, Bob:

There is a tragic end to all living things: They stop living. Our Maine Coon "Kitty" of 14 years stopped living last week. Her name was "Bob" and one of the sweetest animals that anyone could have had. I don't think she minded having a boy's name, at least she never mentioned it.

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In all, it was a sweet reminiscence for a lost pet, something to which most of us can relate.

For a moment, though, the "bond king" veered into TMI territory.

Aside from sleeping, Bob loved nothing more than to follow me from room to room making sure I was OK. It got to be a little much at times, especially when entering and exiting the shower. I'm not a particularly shy guy, but then why was a female cat named Bob checking me out all the time? Her obsession carried over to the TV, sensing when I was on CNBC and paying apt attention no less. I often asked her about her recommendations for pet food stocks, and she frequently responded—one meow for "no," two meows for a "you bet." She was less certain about interest rates, but then it never hurt to ask. (Emphasis added)

To be fair, Gross' written market observations are notorious for their, well, eccentricity. He often uses some seemingly unrelated tale to make his point—a historical allegory or reference to popular culture—that seems at first disjointed but somehow fits.

His efforts for the April letter, though, left some scratching their heads.

Here's the thing: After years of outperformance, Newport Beach, Calif.-based Pimco, which manages nearly $2 trillion for clients, has been getting trounced. The Total Return Fund—the largest in the world with $232 billion in assets under management—underperformed 94 percent of its competitors in March, according to Morningstar.

The fund saw $3.1 billion in outflows in March, the 11th-straight month of net redemptions. Year-to-date, the fund has gained 1.2 percent, comparing unfavorably against its Barclays Aggregate benchmark, which is up 1.84 percent.

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In reading the April essay, it's hard to discern the connection between Gross' outlook and his cat's death, save for this final, fairly cryptic remark:

Treasure your pets and all living things. Eventually we all stop living.

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