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Hedge fund industry performance was broadly positive in February

Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Opalesque Industry Update - Industry performance was broadly positive in February 2021 with 80% of products reporting to eVestment reporting gains during the month.

While the average positive result was high (+4.51%), it has been surpassed by four other months in the course of the prior twelve. Since post-pandemic onset in March 2020, the industry has produced aggregate returns of nearly 20%, which is the best 12-month return period for the industry since at least 2011.

Equity market exposures produced the best average returns in February followed by commodities, but it is Origination & Financing products which have produced the largest primary strategy returns YTD.

There were again mixed returns among some of the industry's largest managers in February. The ten largest reporting products did much better in February than January, but the average YTD returns from the group is essentially flat. This still doesn't tell the full story as half the group is negative for the year. One sub-segment of large products where returns have been most consistently positive is within the largest multi-strategy managers where returns in 2021 appear quite strong.

Just about every segment of the industry produced positive aggregate returns in February, though there were exceptions. Insurance-linked funds were mixed with negative average returns, along with FX/Currency products.

Managed futures funds produced very good returns in February, though the group of the largest reporting funds under-performed in aggregate. There were, however, several large managers which did quite well in February and are off to a good start in 2021.

While February was a generally positive month, and the industry is generally off to a good start to 2021, we are still seeing remnants of the difficulties among some larger funds we saw in 2020.

The result for the industry last year seemed to be that assets were increasingly driven by returns, but also more non-mega products were gaining assets. With these similar themes in 2021, it will be interesting to watch how assets continue to be distributed around the industry.

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