Barron's Hedge Fund Rankings 2009: Top 100 List ~ market folly

Monday, May 18, 2009

Barron's Hedge Fund Rankings 2009: Top 100 List

Barron's is out with their annual hedge fund 100 list and we wanted to post up all the media relating to it. They mention that hedge fund assets plummeted from $1.9 trillion to $1.4 trillion throughout the course of 2008. That is a staggering number, but it definitely highlights the real problems the industry had during the year. While redemptions were fierce over the last year, reports are out saying that nearly 80% of redemption activity was high net worth and retail investors, rather than institutions. This will definitely be interesting as it could affect the health of the industry moving forwards. If institutions suddenly drop their allocations to hedge funds, then there will be big ramifications across the industry.

While many funds faltered, there have been a few all-stars over the past three years and Barron's highlights them on their list. Firstly, here's the hedge fund 100 list in it's entirety (RSS & Email readers may need to come to the blog to view the slidedeck). Or, you can download the .pdf here.

There is also a supplemental video below where the author/compiler of the list Jack Willoughby discusses the rankings and the hedge fund industry in its current state:

Barron's breaks down their top 100 hedge fund list by 3 year annualized returns. They rank by individual investment partnerships, so a couple of firms actually have multiple hedge funds on the list (like Paulson & Co, Galleon Group, etc). Barron's list does have a few criteria though, as they require a minimum AUM of $300 million and have excluded funds that invest in a single "sector, country, or region."

Overall though, the list is definitely a "who's who" of the hedge fund elite. John Paulson's Paulson & Co occupies the #1 and #4 slots, with a 62.67% and 46.81% 3 year annualized returns respectively. Of other hedge funds we cover on the blog, Shumway Capital has a fund listed at #11. Fellow Tiger Cub Paul Touradji has one of his funds in the #16 spot.

Some higher frequency trading firms are also high up on the list, including D.E. Shaw's Oculus fund at #21 and SAC Capital's International fund at #17. Noticeably absent from the list though, is Jim Simons' Renaissance Technologies. This is hard to believe, seeing how their prestigious and secretive Medallion fund returned 80% in 2008 and has one of the most pristine track records in all of hedgie-land. Maybe Barron's was tracking Rentec's sub-par performing funds like RIEF, which would explain their absence from the list. Medallion's exclusion, however, makes zero sense.

We've also noted that some funds who focus on macro trends are also ranked pretty highly. Passport Capital (John Burbank) is #24, Sprott Asset Management graces the list at #49, and George Soros' hedge fund is #46. In terms of true global macro firms, Moore Capital Management has a fund listed at #33. Keep in mind that we're just about to start our hedge fund portfolio tracking series, first quarter 2009 edition. We'll be updating the positions and portfolios of many of the funds ranked in the Top 100 to see what they've been up to, so make sure to check back daily.

Barron's isn't the only hedge fund ranking list out there, as Alpha had previously released their 2009 hedge fund rankings. The difference between the two lists is that Barron's is using a 3 year annualized return figure to gauge performance and rank accordingly. Alpha, on the other hand, simply aggregates assets under management (AUM) and then ranks from top to bottom. Obviously, many will argue that Barron's has the better gauge since they are using performance based metrics, and we'd tend to agree. The problem, though, is that they only use a 3 year annualized return. We'd prefer to use a 5 year or even 10 year period. That gets a little bit more complex and complicated as you would have some out-performing funds who only have shorter track records due to their inception dates. Overall though, Barron's and Alpha both present interesting lists.

Don't forget that you can get Barron's for 40% off right now and you can also view their top 100 article in its entirety.

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