Managed futures funds see outflows

Managed futures funds produced the strongest returns of any hedge fund strategy tracked by eVestment in 2014 but saw asset outflows nonetheless.

Managed futures strategies generated returns of over 8% last year, compared to an average aggregate return of 2.48% for all hedge funds.

Hedge funds generally slipped 0.15% in December, their fourth monthly decline in H2 2014, leaving second half performance flat at 0.03%.

In terms of assets, however, the hedge fund industry attracted $112.33 billion in 2014 and now manages an estimated $3.07 trillion, according to eVestment's calculations.

Funds of all sizes lost ground in December, with large funds ($1 billion or more) shedding 0.21% on the month to leave them up 3.46% year to date; mid-sized funds ($250 million to $1 billion) shedding 0.11% leaving them up 2.87% YTD; and small funds (under $250 million) shedding 0.20% to end the year up 2.25%.

Led, as mentioned, by managed futures, all primary strategies tracked by eVestment ended 2014 in the black. Here they are, ranked by their full-year 2014 returns:

Managed Futures

After underperforming in recent years, managed futures funds came into their own in 2014, adding 8.63% for the entire year (and 1.70% in December). According to eVestment, the largest managed futures funds did even better, returning an average 14% in 2014. The last time managed futures strategies produced industry-leading performance was 2008.

Despite the strong performance, investors have yet to jump onto the managed futures bandwagon—eVestment's November asset inflow data shows the strategy lost $4.11 billion for the month, bringing total losses in the first 11 months of 2014 to $34.30 billion.

Managed futures funds had estimated assets under management of $129.19 billion as of end-November.

Macro

Macro funds came a distant second performance-wise, in 2014, generating returns of 3.31% on the year (0.25% in December).

The data provider's asset-flow figures show macro funds also lost assets in 2014—$17.76 billion, to be exact—including outflows of $4.10 in December alone.

Macro strategies now manage estimated assets of $214.14 billion.

Event-Driven, Activist

Activist funds returned 2.97% in 2014, although they shed 0.91% in December, according to eVestment, which characterized the strategy's performance for the year as “volatile,” but said that was to be expected from funds “which tend to be concentrated among few positions.”

Event-driven funds (including activist managers) saw inflows of $43.83 billion in 2014, including $2.11 billion in December.

Event-driven funds managed $582.92 billion as of end-November 2014.

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