The computers keep winning.
It’s been a terrible start to the year for hedge funds, with stock, bond and commodities markets all getting beat up.
The average hedge fund is down 3.85%, according to Hedge Fund Research. Many are already suffering double-digit losses. It follows a terrible 2015 when the average fund fell 3.64%.
Not everyone is losing though.
The hedge fund industry is made up of multiple strategies—long/short equity, activist, event-driven, distressed, global macro, and the list goes on.
The strategies doing the worst though are ones with exposure to equities markets and also high-yield fixed income. Meanwhile, the strategies that are doing well are the ones that are not correlated to long-only benchmarks.
The real standout strategy in 2016 has been the managed futures funds or commodity trading advisers (CTAs).
Most CTAs are defined as trend following, meaning they use quantitative models and computer-driven trading to 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. Not all CTAs are the same though. Some trade in a few markets, while others trade in over 140 different markets. The strategies can vary too.
As a group, the CTAs are having a killer year, with the average fund tracked by HSBC gaining 6.19%, adding to gains reported last week.
Here’s a rundown of the top-performing funds, according to data compiled by HSBC:
- Tulip Trend Fund, LTD -A (managed futures): The $274 million managed futures fund managed by Progressive Capital Partners is up 22.78% through February 12. The fund fell 8.81% in 2015.
- Conquest Macro Fund LTD (managed futures): The $206 millionsystematic short-term trading CTA led by Marc Malek rose 21.7% through February 16. The fund ended up 2.28% in 2015. Since its inception in 1999, the fund has produced annualized returns of 20.04%.
- 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 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%. 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.
- Horseman Global Fund (equity-diversified/global): The London-based $965 millionglobal equity/diversifiedfund managed by Russell Clark and Bobby Turnbull is up 15.3% through February 10. 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.
- Saba Capital Offshore Fund (credit):The $1.4 billion credit fund led by Boaz Weinstein is up 13.1% through February 12. The average credit fund HSBC follows is down 1.12% in 2016. Saba finished 2015 up 3.36%.
- Roy G. Niederhoffer Diversified Offshore Fund (managed futures): The $761 million fund led by Roy Niederhoffer rose 12.47% through February 17. The fund ended 2015 up 4.32%. The fund has produced annualized returns of 18.73% since its inception in 1995.
- Cantab Capital Partners Quantitative Fund (managed futures): The $2.7 billion CTA rose 12.46% through February 12. The fund, managed 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.
- Brevan Howard Systematic Trading Fund (managed futures): The $405 million managed futures fund climbed 12.09% through February 12. The fund fell -1.43% in 2015.
- ISAM Systematic Trend Fund Class Q (managed futures): The $564 million managed futures fund climbed 11.63% through February 12. The fund was up more than 15% in 2015.
- AAM Absolute Return Fund (equity-diversified/global): The $184 million global equity-diversified fund run by Harald Otterhaug is up 11.01% through February 12. The fund was the best performer in 2015, ending the year up more than 58%.
- Welton Global Directional Portfolio (managed futures): The $140 million fund gained 10.71% through February 16. The fund fell 2.01% in 2015.
- Bluetrend Fund LTD (managed futures): The $4.8 billion computer-driven fund run by Systematica Investments (Leda Braga) rose 10.66% through February 12.
- GSA Trend Risk Premia Fund (managed futures): The $480 million managed futures fund rose 10.39 through February 12. The fund ended 2015 up 14.9%.
- Eagle Quantitative Macro (macro/systematic): The $331 million fund rose 9.84% through February 12.
- Odey European (equity-diversified/Europe): Crispin Odey’s $3 billion European equity-diversified fund rose 9.6% through February 12. The average European equity-diversified fund HSBC tracks has fallen 5.71% in 2016. Odey’s fund fell more than 12% in 2015.
- Renaissance Institutional Diversified Alpha (multistrategy): The $1.47 billion multistrategy fund managed by Renaissance Technologies rose 8.92% through February 12. Meanwhile, the average multistrategy 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%.
- AHL Evolution (managed futures): The $3 billion fund comanaged by Tim Wong and Mathew Sargaison has gained 9.07% through February 12. Since its inception in 2005, the fund has produced annualized returns of 15.45%.
- 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 1.35% in 2016. The fund finished 2015 up 16.54%.
- Renaissance Institutional Equities (long/short equity): The $2.18 billion fund gained 7.94% through February 12. The average long/short equity fund HSBC tracks is down more than 5%.
- Boronia Diversified (managed futures): The $53 million fund comanaged by Richard Grinham and Angus Grinham was up 7% through February 17.