Sol Waksman Opalesque Industry Update: BarclayHedge and TrimTabs Investment Research reported today that hedge funds redeemed an estimated $5.2 billion in December 2011 and underperformed the S&P 500 for the year. Industry assets fell to $1.64 trillion, down 7.7% for 2011, and hit their lowest level since February 2010.
“The Barclay Hedge Fund Index fell 0.4% in December after decreasing 1.4% in November,” says Sol Waksman, founder and President of BarclayHedge. “From May 2011 onward, hedge fund performance was negative in every month except October.”
“Hedge funds underperformed the S&P 500 last year, falling 5.5% compared to a flat return for the S&P 500,” says Leon Mirochnik, an analyst at TrimTabs. In December, only three of 14 major hedge fund categories tracked by TrimTabs and BarclayHedge — Equity Market Neutral, Merger Arbitrage and Fixed Income — showed positive returns.
Meanwhile, the latest TrimTabs/BarclayHedge Survey of Hedge Fund Managers reveals growing numbers of fund managers are becoming more optimistic about the prospects of U.S. equities. The survey of 108 hedge fund managers found bullish sentiment on the S&P 500 at 45.4% in January 2012, up from 42% in December and the second-highest reading since December 2010. Managers were surveyed in the third week of January.
While hedge fund managers are seeing brighter days ahead, the TrimTabs Demand Index is far less optimistic. "The Demand Index is down more than 50% since the beginning of January, which stands as a warning to bullish market participants,” Mirochnik says. The Demand Index, which monitors 21 key sentiment indicators to time U.S. equities, signaled a strong bullish stance in late November, just before the markets surged. “This sudden reversal in January is cause for caution,” Mirochnik says.