ARK CEO Cathie Wood says she avoided the Arm IPO frenzy. Here’s why


Cathie Wood, CEO of Ark Invest, speaks during an interview on CNBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, February 27, 2023.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood said she did not participate in Arm‘s blockbuster initial public offering last week because she finds the British chip designer was overvalued relative to its competitive position.

Arm, the Cambridge-based company controlled by Japanese investment giant SoftBank, listed on New York’s Nasdaq on Thursday at an IPO price of $51 a share for a valuation of almost $60 billion. Shares jumped almost 25% on the first day of trading to close at $63.59.

The initial buzz has since fizzled, with the stock suffering successive daily declines to end the Tuesday trade session at $55.17.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Wednesday, Wood said the recent frenzy around AI-exposed companies was justified and that “innovation is undervalued given the enormous opportunities that we see ahead, catalyzed very importantly by artificial intelligence.”

“As far as Arm, I think there might be a little bit too much emphasis on AI when it comes to Arm and maybe not enough focus on the competitive dynamics out there,” she added.

Arm CEO Rene Haas and executives cheer, as Softbank’s Arm, chip design firm, holds an initial public offering (IPO) at Nasdaq Market site in New York, U.S., September 14, 2023.

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

“So we did not participate in that IPO, and we also compare it to the stocks in our portfolios. Arm came out, we think, from a valuation point of view on the high side, and we see within our portfolios much lower priced names with much more exposure to AI.”

Arm declined to comment.

The top holdings in Wood’s flagship ARK Innovation ETF include Tesla, Shopify, UiPath, Unity, Zoom, Twilio, Coinbase, Roku, Block and DraftKings.

After taking a beating during the recent cycle of aggressive interest rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, the ARK ETF resurged this year, as investors flocked to stocks with AI exposure. Wood said that the anticipation of interest rates peaking would further this trend.

“The appetite for innovation is stirring here, and I think one of the reasons is because many investors and analysts are starting to look over the interest rate hike moves we’ve seen, record breaking in the last year or so, and to the other side,” she explained.

Watch CNBC's full interview with ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood

With inflation coming down across major economies and with central banks expected to begin unwinding their aggressive monetary policy tightening over the next year, Wood suggested the coming period “should be a very good environment for innovation and global megatrend strategies.”

ARK Invest on Wednesday acquired British thematic ETF issuer Rize ETF for £5.25 million ($6.5 million), marking the company’s first venture into the European passive investment market.

Wood said that Europe has not had access to actually invest in the company’s U.S.-based ETFs until now, despite accounting for around 25% of demand for the company’s research since ARK’s inception in 2014.

“The cost of technology, especially with artificial intelligence now, is collapsing, and therefore it’s going to be much easier to build and scale tech companies anywhere in the world. This is no longer just the purview of Silicon Valley,” Wood said. “We are very open-minded about technologies flourishing throughout the world, including Europe.”