Best And Worst Hedge Fund Long Stock Pickers

Best And Worst Hedge Fund Long Stock Pickers

The five top hedge fund long stock pickers with long U.S. equity AUM over $3 billion produced 10.7% average annual alpha in the past three years (through October 2015).  The five bottom hedge fund long U.S. equity stock pickers had negative alpha averaging -6.5% during the same period. Both lists contain well-known and well-followed managers with a combined long U.S. equity AUM over $100 billion. These rankings overcome the flaws of simplistic performance measures by using a persistent and hence predictive metric of alpha.

Ranking Hedge Fund Long Stock Pickers

Fund rankings usually focus on absolute or relative nominal returns. Reliance on such simplistic measures, frequently mislabeled as “alpha,” is hazardous for allocators and consultants and typically leads to picking yesterday’s winners, who tend to become tomorrow’s losers: high-beta funds in bull markets and low-beta funds in bear markets.  To overcome these flaws, AlphaBetaWorks calculates returns independent of risks taken – AlphaReturn – the performance a fund would have generated if markets had been flat. A true measure of security selection skill, AlphaReturn is strongly predictive of future stock picking performance.

To the extent a fund derives significant returns from long equity holdings, our approach helps allocators and consultants avoid losses and unhappy clients. Furthermore, absent this approach, mindless followers of famous funds are headed for disappointment.

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Top and Bottom Five Hedge Funds by Stock Picking Return

A comparison of nominal long hedge fund portfolio performance to market indices is misleading, since a portfolio may be taking dramatically different risks. It follows that equating outperformance relative to S&P500 with alpha is wrong. Under this simplistic approach, leveraged market ETFs generate positive alpha in up years and negative alpha in down years – a flawed result and a dangerous criterion for investment decisions.

Adjusting returns for the factor (systematic) risks taken to generate them is required to identify stock picking return and, correspondingly, stock picking skill.


Below we list the top and bottom long U.S. equity stock pickers among the hedge funds that can be analyzed using regulatory filings:

Name AlphaBetaReturn AlphaBetaScore AlphaReturn AlphaScore BetaReturn BetaScore
Harbinger Capital Partners LLC 15.45 95.04 15.38 95.4 -0.01 49.92
Icahn Associates Holdings LLC 9.09 80.19 11.11 85.92 -2.01 23
PAR Capital Management, Inc. 8.32 95.56 10.93 98.85 -2.69 12.48
Longview Asset Management LLC 14.09 97.02 9.40 87.53 4.49 98.83
ValueAct Capital Management LP 3.29 74.01 6.73 90.06 -3.52 3.9

Hedge Funds with the Highest Long U.S. Equity Stock Picking Returns and > $3B AUM, 3-yr CAGR

Name AlphaBetaReturn AlphaBetaScore AlphaReturn AlphaScore BetaReturn BetaScore
Bridgewater Associates LP -9.05 1.86 -8.15 4.28 -0.99 28.03
Omega Advisors, Inc. -8.29 0.22 -7.19 1.25 -1.14 16.06
Pershing Square Capital Management LP -5.36 25.15 -5.83 25.01 0.28 56.73
Axiom International Investors LLC -2.62 16.93 -5.83 0.71 3.17 94.05
Paulson & Co., Inc. -5.05 14.65 -5.63 10.72 0.57 61.94

Hedge Funds with the Lowest Long U.S. Equity Stock Picking Returns and > $3B AUM, 3-yr CAGR

There are familiar fund names on both lists, with a combined $112 billion in long AUM.  While these funds’ reported returns will differ from those above due principally to factor (systematic) sources (market / sector betas, et cetera), international holdings, fixed income positions, derivatives, and shorts, AlphaReturn is a clear and predictive measure of stock picking skill reflecting returns in excess of passive risks taken. Unlike nominal returns, Sharpe Ratios, and other returns-based measures (which revert), AlphaReturn reflects what investors pay fees for: performance independent of risks taken. What’s more, both positive and negative AlphaReturns tend to persist.

The tables above also show several related skill metrics. For example, AReturn is return from market timing, and AlphaBetaReturn is total active return combining security selection and market timing. The Scores above, such as AlphaScore, quantify return consistency using a scale of 0 to 100: 0 corresponds to consistently negative returns; 100 to consistently positive.

The following charts show cumulative AlphaReturns of the best and worst 3-year long U.S. equity stock pickers from the above group. Portfolio AlphaReturns in blue compare to the peer group of all hedge funds’ long U.S. equity portfolio in gray:

Harbinger Capital Partners LLC: Risk-adjusted Return from Security Selection (AlphaReturn), Long U.S. Equity Portfolio

Hedge Fund Long Stock Pickers

Bridgewater Associates LP: Risk-adjusted Return from Security Selection (AlphaReturn), Long U.S. Equity Portfolio


A comparison of nominal long hedge fund portfolio performance to market indices is misleading and can lead to allocators selecting high-return funds that are, in truth, merely high risk. Since systematic fund risk varies, the assumption that outperformance relative to S&P500 is alpha is wrong. In a rising market, allocators and consultants who make these mistakes are likely to allocate to the most aggressive managers, rather than the most skilled. In a flat or declining market, these mistakes are revealed, leading to losses, pain, and embarrassment.

The solution is using skill analytics that discriminate among the different levels of systematic risk, like AlphaBetaWorks’ AlphaReturn (among others), which reveals managers with investment skill likely to generate future alpha.

The information herein is not represented or warranted to be accurate, correct, complete or timely.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Copyright © 2012-2015, AlphaBetaWorks, a division of Alpha Beta Analytics, LLC. All rights reserved.
Content may not be republished without express written consent.


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AlphaBetaWorks provides risk management, skill evaluation, and predictive performance analytics. Developed by finance and technology veterans, our proprietary platform combines the latest advances in financial risk modeling, data processing, and statistical analysis. Our Risk Analytics are more robust than alternatives and our Skill Analytics are predictive. Risk Analytics AlphaBetaWorks pinpoints risks missed by other offerings and delivers unique insights. AlphaBetaWorks Risk Analytics were developed by investment professionals seeking usability and a deeper understanding of portfolio exposures. Predictive Performance Analytics Starting with robust, proprietary risk models, AlphaBetaWorks adds layers of attribution and statistical analysis. Our Skill Analytics describe a multitude of specific skills that are strongly predictive of future returns for any fund, manager, or analyst with a sufficient sample of investment history. The AlphaBetaWorks Advantage Our Risk and Performance Analytics provide unique insights: For portfolio managers, we identify overlooked exposures, hidden risk clusters, and crowded bets. Managers can focus on risks in areas where they have proven ability to generate excess returns and avoid undesired risks in areas where they do not. For fund allocators, we identify the skills, crowding, and hidden portfolio bets of individual funds and portfolios of funds. Allocators can identify differentiated and skilled managers that are deploying capital in areas of proven expertise – and more importantly, those that are not. Background As finance professionals, we spent the last decade focused on fundamental investment analysis and the study of great (and seemingly great) investment managers. We asked of ourselves: Where are the unintended risks in a portfolio? What is the chance that a manager possesses true investment skill and was not just lucky? Does investment skill persist and is past skill a predictor of future results? There was no product, service, or technology that rigorously and consistently answered these questions. With decades of fundamental investment analysis, risk management, mathematics, and technology expertise, AlphaBetaWorks professionals have developed risk and skill analytics to address these and related questions.
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