March 12, 2020 / 10:39 PM / 3 months ago

Bridgewater hedge funds post mixed results amid market turmoil

NEW YORK/BOSTON/LONDON (Reuters) - Bridgewater Associates LP, the Ray Dalio-led hedge fund giant famous for making money during the 2008 financial crisis, has posted mixed returns amid the coronavirus-led market turmoil, according to an investor with direct knowledge of the performance.

Bridgewater’s flagship hedge fund, Pure Alpha II, declined 2.4% over the first six days of March, leaving it down 10.6% for the year, the investor said. Major Markets, another large fund, was also down about 12% for 2020 through March 6, the person said.

Both so-called macro funds, which bet on a broad array of global securities based on macroeconomic trends, generally came into the market correction short bonds and long equities, twin losing bets, the person said. More recent performance was unavailable.

Bridgewater’s All Weather fund fared better with a gain of 2.5% year-to-date through March 6, the investor said. The fund, which practices a so-called risk parity strategy to automatically proportion bets on major asset classes, has essentially been long both bonds and equities. High quality bonds have rallied as equity investors sought their relative safety from plunging stocks.

Greg Jensen, the Westport, Connecticut-based firm’s co-chief investment officer, said on Feb. 26 that Bridgewater was weighing how likely it was for the coronavirus shock to impact credit, which would have more serious long-term economic implications.

"The main question ... is really a function of whether it flows into the credit system," Jensen said in a video interview posted online here by Bridgewater.

Bridgewater, the largest hedge fund manager in the world at $160 billion, is trusted by large investors globally to help produce steady returns no matter what the market environment. Its Pure Alpha fund famously gained about 9.5% in 2008, a year when most investors were walloped by the housing-led financial crisis. Pure Alpha, which posted a flat return last year, has produced net annualized returns of 11.1% since inception; All Weather gained 16.6% last year and has an average annual gain of 7.7%, according to a person familiar with the performance.

Other macro hedge fund managers have fared better this year.

London-based Brevan Howard’s listed hedge fund, BH Macro, made gains of 6.8% this month through March 6 and is up 11% year-to-date, according to a recent filing.

Gávea Investimentos, a Brazil-based macro manager, posted an estimated 1.24% gain this year through February aided by short positions in Asian and Mexican currencies and fixed income bets in Canada, Australia and Brazil, according to an investor letter seen by Reuters. The fund is up another 1.8% so far in March as of Thursday, bringing the year-to-date total to nearly 3%, according to a person close to the firm.

Other macro fund gains over the first two months of the year, according to investors and a report by the HSBC Alternative Investment Group, include MKP Enhanced Opportunity Offshore fund (up 5.2%); Kirkoswald Asset Management (up 6.3%); Horseman Global Fund (up 10.2%); and Caxton Global Investment (up 5.28%)

Representatives for the funds did not immediately return requests seeking comment.

A London-based hedge fund investment consultant said that macro funds had mostly bet against stocks and for fixed income, a winning combination.

“Lots of macro managers have done really well,” said the person, who requested anonymity because the performance was private. “As markets have continued to fall, rates have continued to fall as well and these managers have kept their positions.”

Reporting by Lawrence Delevingne in New York, Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston and Maiya Keidan in London; Editing by Megan Davies and Daniel Wallis

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