BY PETER LAURELLI, CFA | EVESTMENT GLOBAL HEAD OF RESEARCH
Hedge funds gained an average of +5.02% in April after the largest average monthly loss on record in March, bringing average losses to -7.49% for the year. It is important to remember that while March losses were worse than any single month prior, during the global financial crisis there were large losses in both September and October, and losses in surrounding months as well though not of the same magnitude.
|Industry Benchmarks||April||YTD 2020||2019||2018|
|Hedge Fund Aggregate||5.02%||-7.49%||9.91%||-5.07%|
Gains were generally greatest among strategies that still have the lowest average returns for the year. Funds focused on corporate capital structures (activists, long/short equity) performed best in April, but as mentioned above are among those with the largest YTD losses.
Managed futures are the best performing strategy YTD after slight aggregate gains in April. There has been meaningful differential among returns even for the largest managers in the group. While their average gains are very good for the year, there remain a few large products which while performing very well last year, are down significantly YTD. The story for returns among these strategies is not universally positive, but there are several which have likely made investors pleased.
Within the macro space the variance of returns is more significant than managed futures. While performance from the group was positive in April, and average losses are better than for the overall industry, the group has the largest difference between average gains and average losses of any primary strategy. Even among the most prominent managers in this space, the differentials are significant.
|Primary Strategy||% YTD Positive||Avg of Pos||Avg of Neg||Differential|
|Market Neutral Equity||20%||5.30%||-6.17%||11.5%|
Within credit strategies, YTD losses have also been meaningful, despite a rebound in April and better returns being produced by the largest reporting managers in the space. Within the securitized segment, while there were mostly gains in April, losses have been elevated particularly from managers focused on MBS and related securities. Insurance-linked strategies have outperformed their other securitized counterparts, though not in April.
On a regional/emerging markets basis, the story has mostly been the same in that the largest gains in April came from segments with the largest losses YTD. The outliers have been products focused on Brazilian markets where average losses YTD have been the largest in the industry. China-focused managers have been by far the best performing among emerging markets exposures.