Bill Fleckenstein, a well-known Seattle investor who bets exclusively on falling stocks, is shutting his 12-year-old fund and starting a new one that will buy equities, too.

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Bill Fleckenstein, a well-known Seattle investor who bets exclusively on falling stocks, is shutting his 12-year-old fund and starting a new one that will buy equities, too.

Fleckenstein said he doesn’t think the worse is over in the U.S. stock market. Yet he no longer wants to limit himself to so-called short bets.

“I’m not wildly bullish right now,” he said. “The market hasn’t reached its ultimate lows, but we might be in a trading range for a long time.”

Short sellers have been the best-performing hedge funds this year, up 32 percent through November, according to Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research, whose data show an industry average decline of 18 percent during that period. Fleckenstein, founder and president of Fleckenstein Capital, declined to comment on the fund’s size or its returns.

His long-short fund won’t be limited to wealthy investors, as his current fund is, and he will only charge clients a management fee. Hedge funds generally charge 2 percent of assets and 20 percent of any gain they make.

“I feel that many (but certainly not everyone) in the ‘hedge’ fund community have behaved in a disgraceful manner in the last couple years,” he wrote on his Web site, referring to high fees and practices such as suspending client redemptions. “Consequently I’d rather not be part of the ‘industry’ going forward.”