Convertible Arbitrage Hedge Funds Soar In ’09, Most Other Strategies Rally

Jan 11 2010 | 2:54am ET

The HFRI Fund-Weighted Composite Index added 1.25% in December , closing out the year at 20.04%. Just two strategies and substrategies—out of the 23 tracked by HFR—lost ground last year, and only three last month.

Fixed-income convertible arbitrage funds were the strongest strategy in 2009, by some distance. The strategy returned 58.43% on the year (1.67% in December). Russia and Eastern Europe funds came in second at 51.08% (1.02%), followed by Latin America funds at 47.95% (2.39%), energy and basic materials funds 40.57% (3.21%) and emerging markets funds 40.32% (1.82%).

The (short) list of losers is short-bias, which plummeted 23.47% on the year (down 4.12% last month), no surprise given the equities rally last year. Systematic diversified funds lost 2.45% last year, all of it in the final month, when it lost 3.53%. The only other strategy to suffer a down December was macro, which lost 1.63% last month to end the year up 4.03%, the third-worst positive performance of any HFRI index.

The other major hedge fund strategies all ended the year with returns in excess of 25%. Event-driven funds returned 25.96% last year (3.15% in December), relative value funds 25.8% (1.95%) and equity hedge funds 25.07% (2.37%).

The HFRI Fund of Funds Composite Index finished 2009 up 11.16% after rising 0.44% in December.

Asia ex-Japan funds returned 36.8% (1.7% in December), global emerging markets funds 35.38% (2.46%), fixed-income corporate funds 31.05% (1.75%), technology and healthcare funds 27.03% (3.41%), distressed and restructuring funds 29.19% (3.35%) and asset-backed funds 26.33% (3.68%).

Relative value multi-strategy funds added 24.69% (2.2%), yield alternatives funds 23.79% (2.05%), quantitative directional funds 16.18% (3.18%) and merger arbitrage 11.6% (1.1%). Equity market-neutral funds returned just 1.85% on the year (0.69% in December) and private issue and Regulation D funds just 0.58% after a 3.55% jump last month.


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