After 5 consecutive years of positive returns, hedge funds with exposure to catastrophe bonds or Cat bonds for short, are on track to post their first year of losses as the full extent of damages from Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria come to light. An index of such funds tracked by Eurekahedge who explicitly allocate to insurance linked investments and have at least 70% of their portfolio invested in non-life risk – the Eurekahedge ILS Advisers Hedge Fund Index was down 0.33% in August and 5.46% in September, bringing the year-to-date return into negative territory with a loss of 3.69%. This comes after ILS hedge funds delivered compound returns of 15.60% versus 12.21% for the average hedge fund in the three year period ending December 2016.
November 2016, what many thought was unthinkable became a reality when Donald Trump assumed power in the United States. His unpredictability and outspokenness had already spooked markets in the lead up to the election, but what has happened since has been quite remarkable in its own right. Markets, which once feared the idea of a Trump presidency embraced it whole-heartedly, and what President Trump had once called ‘a big, fat, ugly bubble’ got a new lease of life. The rhetoric was toned down and the handshakes were tempered as the prospect of a renewed fiscal stimulus coupled with economic de-regulation set about trying to woo markets. While little has materialized save a deadlock on Capitol Hill, markets have risen to new highs.
Investors are increasingly beginning to incorporate ethical considerations into their investment decisions, a development which has given rise to the environmental, social, governance (ESG) framework over the years. Despite the implementation challenges which arise when screening investments against acceptable environmental, social and corporate governance themes, the trend towards a more conscientious approach to investment is here to stay, especially from the perspective of large institutional investors.
A revival appears to be underway for China investing mandates in 2017 following disappointing returns last year. The recent decision by MSCI to include Chinese A Shares in its broader Emerging Market Indices is likely to support this trend, though exposure through long-only type vehicles to underlying markets could take investors for a ride given the inherent volatility. This piece looks at the performance of China A-Share investing hedge funds and how they have managed to ride the volatility in underlying markets over the years.
Since 2013, a new breed of actively managed crypto-currency alternative funds has been coming to the fore. Initially starting off with dedicated exposure to bitcoins, these funds have now diversified across the breadth of crypto-currencies and consistently rank at the top of performance tables thanks to the skyrocketing price of crypto-currencies over the past few years.
Corporate events such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and company spinoffs provide opportunities for merger arbitrage hedge funds to capitalise on pricing inefficiencies prior to the completion of a transaction. Before acquisition, the price of the share of a target company is usually traded at a discounted price, creating a potential opportunity for merger arbitrageurs to reap gains once the transaction is complete. However, much of the opportunities within the merger arbitrage space lies in the health of M&A activity as well as other factors which would motivate (or de-motivate) the successful transaction of an M&A deal. For instance, the Pfizer/Allergan M&A deal was threatened by US regulatory challenges and this led to the abandonment of the deal. Other than regulatory challenges, the outlook of the global economy as well as business sentiments play an integral role in sustaining the appetite for corporate activity by conglomerates.
The rise of computer-driven strategies in the hedge fund sphere has caught considerable interest from the investment community over recent years. These quantitative hedge funds incorporate automated trading strategies, enabling them to capitalise on price discrepancies in the markets through executing trade positions within a very short span of time. While these systematic hedge funds have been employing methods of technical analysis into their trading strategies, sentiment analysis is also an up and coming feature in investment decisions. Text-mining data collected from various sources could be an indicator of ground sentiment during key market events, which can then be used as inputs in trading models or for risk control.
Activist hedge funds, a sub-strategy of event driven hedge funds, deploy shareholder activism as a key cornerstone of their investment strategy and have closer interactions with management of the companies which they invest into. Cultural differences also play a part in the adopted style of activism with Western activist hedge funds pursuing a dynamic approach, while their Asian counterparts adopt a more engagement-styled activism. This special feature takes a quick look at activist hedge funds, which have markedly outperformed their global hedge fund peers in 2016.
Equity focused hedge fund strategies have seen their assets under management (AUM) grow from US$460.2 billion since end-2009 to US$778.0 billion as of January 2017 through a combination of performance-based gains and investor allocations over the years. Having recorded six consecutive years of asset growth between 2010 to 2015, long/short equity hedge fund AUM contracted for the first time in 2016, declining by 2.56% on the back of steep investor redemptions totalling US$29.1 billion. Performance-based gains were the lowest on record in the last five years following losses in 2011. While 2017 has started on a positive note, with assets for long/short equity hedge funds approaching the US$800 billion mark, the year holds much uncertainty in store.
Quantitative hedge fund strategies have received considerable interest from investors over the last decade. The application of growing computing power and the availability of big data has enabled these systematic trading models to capitalise on market inefficiencies that were otherwise difficult to identify or harvest given the implied trading costs. However, this growth has met with some headwinds on two key accounts; firstly, trading models built using back-tests on historical data have often failed to deliver good returns in real time (as previously identified trends have broken down), and secondly, the diffusion of similar quant models which has led to crowding in the space and consequently depressed the returns from such strategies.
Event driven and their sub-group of distressed debt hedge fund strategies account for almost 12% of the global hedge fund assets under management, standing at US$266.5 billion as of November 2016. Despite posting the best returns among hedge fund strategic mandates in 2016 (distressed debt and event driven strategies are up 11.89% and 8.15% respectively which compares with average global hedge fund gains of 3.50%), the two strategies have seen investor redemptions for most of 2016. Event driven strategies saw outflows of US$13.5 billion in 2016, while distressed debt hedge funds recorded redemptions of US$2.1 billion which compares with industry wide investor redemptions of US$28.2 billion for the year.
CTA/managed futures hedge fund strategies account for almost 11% of the global hedge fund assets under management (AUM), accounting for US$250.3 billion as of October 2016. While the global hedge fund industry has seen redemptions of US$16.6 billion in 2016; the highest on record since 2009, CTA/managed futures strategies have continued to attract investor capital for the second consecutive year in a row. The strategy has seen net investor allocations of US$12.2 billion in 2016, following capital inflows of US$29.0 billion in 2015. Average index returns for the strategy have been muted over the last two years (this following their strong showing in 2014 when the Eurekahedge CTA/Managed Futures Hedge Fund Index was up 9.62%), the prospect of uncorrelated returns, both to traditional and hedge fund mandates adds much to the appeal of CTA/managed futures hedge funds in an investor’s portfolio.
Long/short equity hedge fund strategies account for almost 36% of the global hedge fund asset under management (AUM), accounting for US$801.7 billion as of September 2016. Following a difficult start to the year, the strategy is on its way to recovery following four consecutive months of positive returns with the Eurekahedge Long Short Equity Hedge Fund Index up 2.47% for the year. However, given the challenging market environment since end 2013, long/short equity manager have posted low single digit returns over the last three years – up 3.69% in 2014, 3.04% in 2015 and 2.47% September 2016 YTD; a development that has slowed investor allocations into the strategy and contributed in part to a decline in the net growth activity (launches less closures). The outlook remains challenging for the moment, and the fourth quarter holds much in store from the outcome of the US elections to the Fed’s signalling on the pace of future rate hikes that could potentially limit the upside for the stra
Volatility investing hedge funds are a much overlooked segment of the hedge fund industry - niche players who invest exclusively in volatility as either a standalone alpha generating strategy or as part of a diversified portfolio seeking to provide downside protection during periods of elevated market stress. The strategy though is ripe for a comeback, and a source of much added value for investors seeking to hedge their portfolios during uncertain times and possibly flirt with the notion of direct exposure to volatility as an asset class in its own right. The report which follows will review the performance of the CBOE Eurekahedge Volatility Indexes over the years and the added benefits that can arise from increasing allocations towards volatility investing strategies.
The <em>Eurekahedge Commodity Hedge Fund Index</em> is an equal-weighted index which tracks the performance of underlying hedge fund managers who invest exclusively into commodities and commodities-related instruments. In our analysis, the <em>Eurekahedge Commodity Hedge Fund Index</em> was up 0.77% in July (9.19% July year-to-date) in what turned out to be a good month for managers allocating to precious metals, energy and softs. Underlying managers reported impressive gains made from the rally in precious metals in July as gold climbed during the latter half of the month, on the back of a weakening greenback and lacklustre GDP figures coming from the US. Short positions in crude oil proved to be profitable as concerns of a sat
The Eurekahedge FX Hedge Fund Index tracks the performance of dedicated currency investing hedge funds in the spot, futures and forward markets utilising both systematic and discretionary overlays and investing across all of major, minor and exotic currency pairs. The Eurekahedge FX Hedge Fund Index was up 0.10% in June in what turned out to be a volatile month for global currencies. Underlying managers reported losses on their long USD versus emerging market currency pairs’ positions in the earlier part of the month as disappointing US non-farm payroll data pushed back expectations of a summer rate hike in the US. Short positions in the Rand proved to be costly for managers as South Africa avoided an expected ratings downgrade ...