By Peter Laurelli, CFA | eVestment Global Head of Research
Performance across the diverse hedge fund industry was moderately positive in March with 60% of reporting funds producing positive results and an average return of +0.83%. For the year, the aggregate return for the industry is +4.92%, a fairly good relative return thus far.
Once again, equity market exposures produced the best average returns in March, though there were some meaningful losses within healthcare and tech sector-focused strategies. At the primary strategy level, it was Alternative Risk Premia strategies which produced the highest average return. For the year, however, ARP products are producing moderate returns, which follows a very difficult 2020.
There were some positive signs coming from some of the industry’s largest products, which had been an area of concern over the prior couple of months. The ten largest reporting managers produced higher average returns in March than the rest of the industry, which again, had not been the case in recent months. Despite some good signs in March, several of the products remain in negative territory YTD.
At the primary strategy level, the largest managed futures funds outperformed other large fund segments and they are generally doing better in 2021 than other large manager segments, behind only the largest event driven products. The largest multi-strategy products produced some losses in March, though not all. The group has been a standout over the last 1.5 years, so seeing even a month when the largest funds see bits of difficulty is of interest.
EM-focused funds produced aggregate declines during the month with exposure to China being the primary reason, though funds focusing on Brazil continued to face a difficult market. Brazil-focused funds have by far seen the largest aggregate declines in 2021, which they also did in 2020.