The hedge fund industry as a whole is already off to one of its worst years ever as global equities got slammed and oil prices plunged in January.
The average hedge fund fell 2.76% in January, according to Hedge Fund Research. The S&P 500, a popular benchmark used to compare performance, fell 5% during that time.
“There is significant differences in returns across various hedge fund strategies,” said Don Steinbrugge, managing partner of the Richmond, Virginia-based Agecroft Partners, a marketing and consulting firm for the hedge fund industry.
“The strategies that are doing the worst are the ones with exposure to equities markets and high-yield fixed income.”
Of course, not everyone is losing. In fact, there are quite a few winners emerging.
The strategies that are doing well are the ones that are not correlated to long-only benchmarks and are actually hedging their portfolios, Steinbrugge added.
The standout strategy this year has been managed futures, or commodity trading advisors (CTAs).
Most CTAs are defined as trend following, meaning they use quantitative models and they invest in financial futures across currencies, stocks, bonds, and commodities. Basically, they go long markets that are going up and short markets that are going down.
Many CTAs have been short and with the markets selling off they have done well in January. In short, the computers are winning.
Most of the top performing hedge funds have been using this strategy, data from HSBC shows. The average managed futures fund tracked by HSBC is up 4.17% in 2016.
Here’s a rundown of the top performing funds:
- Passport Special Opportunities Fund LTD Class AA (equity-diversified/global): The $550 million long/short global equity fund led by John Burbank rose 16% in January. The fund was among the top 20 best performers in 2015, finishing the year up 17.81%. Since the fund’s inception in 2008, it has produced annualized returns of 14.88%. Also, Passport’s two other funds — Passport Global Strategy ($637 million AUM) and Passport Long Short Strategy Fund ($1 billion AUM) — are up 4.8% and 1.8% through January, respectively.
- Conquest Macro Fund LTD (managed futures): The $206 million systematic short-term trading CTA led by Marc Malek rose 15.97% through February 2. The fund ended up 2.28% in 2015. Since its inception in 1999, the fund has produced annualized returns of 20.04%.
- Tulip Trend Fund, LTD -A (managed futures): The $274 million managed futures fund managed by Progressive Capital Partners climbed 12.41% in January. The fund fell 8.81% in 2015.
- Roy G. Niederhoffer Diversified Offshore Fund (managed futures): The $761 million fund led by Roy Niederhoffer rose 11.72% through February 3. The fund ended 2015 up 4.32%. The fund’s produced annualized returns of 18.73% since its inception in 1995.
- Cantab Capital Partners Quantitative Fund (managed futures): The $2.7 billion CTA rose 8.41% through January. The fund, comanaged by Ewan Kirk and Erich Schlaikjer, fell more than 8% in 2015. The fund has produced annualized returns of 8.4% since its inception in 2007.
- Horseman Global Fund (equity-diversified/global): The London-based $965 million global equity/diversified fund comanaged by Russell Clark and Bobby Turnbull is up 8.09% in January. The fund was one of the best performers in 2015, gaining 20.42%. Since 2001, the fund has had annualized returns of 14.57%. The fund went into 2016 long bonds, short equities.
- Bluetrend Fund LTD (managed futures): The $4.8 billion computer-driven fund run by Systematica Investments (Leda Braga) rose 7.48% in January.
- Renaissance Institutional Diversified Alpha (multi-strategy): The $1.47 billion multi-strategy fund managed by Renaissance Technologies rose 7.25% in January. Meanwhile, the average multi-strategy fund HSBC tracks is down 0.47% this year. The fund finished 2015 up 15.55%. Since its debut in 2012, it has produced annualized returns of 9.81%.
- Odey European (equity-diversified/Europe): Crispin Odey’s $3 billion European equity-diversified fund rose 7.16% in January. The average European equity-diversified fund HSBC tracks has fallen 2.67% in 2016. Odey’s fund fell more than 12% in 2015.
- Renaissance Institutional Equities LP (equity-diversified/USA): The $2.1 billion equity-diversified fund rose 6.89% in January. Meanwhile, the average US equity-diversified fund has tumbled 3.87% in 2016. The fund finished 2015 up 16.54%.
- GSA Trend Risk Premia Fund (managed futures): The $480 million managed futures fund rose 6.71% in January. The fund ended 2015 up 14.9%.
- AAM Absolute Return Fund (equity-diversified/global): The $184 million global equity-diversified fund run by Harald Otterhaug is up 6.66% through January. The fund was the best performer in 2015, ending the year up more than 58%.
- Lynx Bermuda 1.5 LTD (managed futures): The $475 million managed futures fund is up 6.07 through February 2. The fund fell 13.77% in 2015. However, in 2014, it was one of the top performers, returning more than 42%.
- Millburn Commodity Program (commodity-systematic/global): The $122 million commodity-focused systematic fund rose 5.95% in January. The fund was up 25.5% in 2015.
- ISAM Systematic Trend Fund Class Q (managed futures): The $564 million managed futures fund climbed 5.71% through January 29. The fund was up more than 15% in 2015.
- Saba Capital Offshore Fund (credit): The $1.4 billion credit fund led by Boaz Weinstein is up 5.65% through January 22. The average credit fund HSBC follows is down 1.12% in 206. Saba finished 2015 up 3.36%.
- Millburn Diversified Program (managed futures): The $875 million managed futures fund rose 5.54% through February 2. The fund gained 5.58% in 2015.
- Campbell Global Assets Fund LTD Class B (managed futures): The $101 million managed futures fund rose 5.33% through February 2.
- QMS Diversified Global Macro (managed futures): The $1.5 billion managed futures fund rose 5.24% in January. The fund rose 2.65% in 2015. Since its inception in 2010, the fund has produced annualized returns of 11.47%.
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