Astenbeck Up 13%

Mar 16 2012 | 8:04am ET

Following his first loss in 14 years, Astenbeck Capital Management's Andrew Hall is riding a rally in oil prices to put 2011 behind him.

The former star Citigroup commodities trader's hedge fund is up more than 13% this year, Reuters reports, well ahead of the 6% increase in U.S. crude prices and roughly 8% returns of both the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the average energy hedge fund.

The returns for January and February have already erased Astenbeck's 3.8% loss from last year, and then some.

For Astenbeck, which is run alongside the older Phibro commodities trading desk, 2011 represented its first-ever losing year. Hall had also posted gains at Phibro, which is now owned by Occidental Petroleum, every year since 1997.

The early gains at Astenbeck are no guarantee, however. The $5 billion firm's performance has been wildly volatile over the past two years. It swung from 12% down in August of 2010 before finishing the year up 12%. Last year was even more of a roller-coaster, with the hedge fund rising 18% through April before dropping into the red by 10% by the end of August. It recovered, only to lose another 18% in September, leaving it down 5% on the year, before getting back to par by October.

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