West Palm Beach (HedgeCo.net)- In a summary of hedge fund performance for the second quarter of 2008, Morningstar, Inc. marked June as a bad end to a good quarter. The Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund Index fell 0.73% during the month, pushing down second-quarter returns to 2.07%. Year to date, the index is up only 0.31%, as hedge funds struggled through poor market conditions.
Overall, hedge funds, including funds of hedge funds, buffered the traditional stock and bond markets over the second quarter. Equity and bond markets saw losses all over the world, while the Morningstar Fund of Hedge Funds Index gained 1.43%. Over the last year, the Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund Index and the Morningstar Fund of Hedge Funds Index outperformed the major global stock indexes, which experienced double-digit declines (with the exception of emerging markets). Both hedge funds and funds of hedge funds underperformed bond markets, however, over this same period.
“Equity markets suffered steep declines in June,” said Morningstar hedge fund analyst Nadia Van Dalen. “Volatility returned to levels not seen since March, amid fears of recession and rising inflation. Most hedge funds are not immune to these economic shocks, despite what their name might imply.”
There were significant exceptions. Over the last 12 months, the Morningstar Global Trend Hedge Fund Index, which tracks funds that profit from price trends in futures, options and currencies, benefited from the sharp rise in commodity prices, returning over 18% (3.28% in June). Funds in the Morningstar Global Non-trend Hedge Fund Index, those that take macro-economic bets on interest rates and currencies, benefited from the falling dollar and the rising Euro, earning 0.33% in June and more than 12% over the last 12 months. The last 12 months also saw high volatility. Those equity arbitrage funds that specialize in trading volatility helped drive the Morningstar Equity Arbitrage Hedge Fund Index to a gain of more than 8.57% in the last year and 1.12% in June.
Not surprisingly, these top-performing categories have also experienced the most inflows. For the period ending May 31 (asset flow reporting lags performance reporting), hedge fund investors poured more than $6 billion into global trend funds and $2.4 billion into global non-trend funds tracked by Morningstar. On the opposite end of the spectrum, investors fled the U.S. equity and Europe equity hedge funds in the Morningstar database, taking more than $7.7 billion and $6.9 billion out of these categories, respectively.
Morningstar’s hedge fund flow data also show that, through May, assets moved to the Morningstar-rated 4-, and 5-star hedge funds, and redeemed the 1-, 2-, and 3-star hedge funds. Four- and 5-star hedge funds received more than $10 billion in new assets through May, while 1- and 2-star hedge funds bled almost $10 billion in assets over the same period.
Returns of Morningstar’s Broad Category Indexes, indexes that group funds in related categories, highlight that the event-driven funds were the hardest hit. This index includes funds in the Morningstar Corporate Actions and Distressed Securities Categories, which sometimes take bets on depressed or out-of-favor companies, and look for a reversal over the longer-term. These bets may look worse before they look better, given the economic conditions.
Morningstar has approximately 8,500 hedge funds and funds of hedge funds in its database and is is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
Editing by Alex Akesson
for HedgeCo LLC
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