Hedge-fund bear Odey said to gain 53% in a bleak year for rivals

Hedge-fund contrarian Crispin Odey’s bearish bets finally paid off as the stock-market selloff he had long predicted kicked in.

The flagship Odey European Inc. fund returned an estimated 53 percent in 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter, its first gain in four years and bucking the losses across the industry. The fund had just one down month in the year, the person said, asking not to be identified because the figures aren’t public.

A vocal supporter of Brexit, Odey profited from his short bet on the pound as well as wagers against U.K. companies including Intu Properties Plc and Debenhams Plc — both of which lost more than half their value in 2018. His European fund gained 3.3 percent in December, boosting returns for the year to the highest since 2007, the person said.

A spokesman for London-based Odey Asset Management declined to comment.

Some of the market veteran’s long-running bullish bets also paid off. U.K. broadcaster Sky surged after Rupert Murdoch sold out to Comcast Corp., while Randgold Resources Ltd. gained following a merger that created a global gold-mining behemoth.

The 59-year-old Odey has some way to go before he’s in the black, though: he’s still reeling from the 67 percent loss his fund suffered between January 2015 and December 2017.

(By Nishant Kumar)