Objective research to aid investing decisions

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Mutual/Hedge Funds

Do investors in mutual funds and hedge funds get their fair share of returns, or are they perpetually disadvantaged by fees and underperforming fund managers? Are there ways to exploit fund behaviors? These blog entries relate to mutual funds and hedge funds.

Quantitative Versus Qualitative Hedge Funds

Do quants outperform quals? In his January 2010 preliminary draft paper entitled “A Comparison of Quantitative and Qualitative Hedge Funds”, Ludwig Chincarini compares the performance characteristics of quantitative and qualitative hedge funds. Using return data and strategy descriptions spanning a total of 6,352 hedge funds over the period January 1970 through June 2009 and risk factor adjustment data for a January 1994 through March 2009 subperiod, he concludes that: Keep Reading

Is Voluntarily Reported Performance Data Misleading?

Are hedge fund industry performance metrics, which are based on voluntarily reported data, materially unrepresentative? In their November 2009 draft paper entitled “Out of the Dark: Hedge Fund Reporting Biases and Commercial Databases”, Adam Aiken, Christopher Clifford and Jesse Ellis compare directly the performances of funds that choose to report and funds that do not. They calculate return data for non-reporting funds by examining the holdings described in SEC filings of 117 publicly listed (registered) funds of hedge funds. Using quarterly return data for reporting and non-reporting hedge funds spanning 2000-2008, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Quantifying the Penalty of Hedge Fund Withdrawal Restrictions

Should hedge fund investors worry about withdrawal restrictions (lockup period, redemption notice period and redemption frequency constraint)? In the November 2009 update of their paper entitled “Being Locked Up Hurts”, Frans de Roon, Jinqiang Guo, and Jenke ter Horst apply Modern Portfolio Theory to model optimal asset allocations for an investor choosing among the risk-free asset (1-month Treasury bill), stocks (value-weighted NYSE equity index), bonds (Fama Bond Portfolio) and a fund of hedge funds (HFRI Fund of Funds composite index) with and without a withdrawal restriction (lockup) period. The essential assumption is that the portfolio efficiency goal requires rebalancing at an interval shorter than the lockup period (in the study, one month versus three months). Using data spanning January 1990 through December 2007 (18 years), limited by hedge fund data availability, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Timing Ability of Bond Mutual Fund Managers

Do managers of bond mutual funds generate value for fund holders by successfully timing the market? In the September 2009 update of their paper entitled “Measuring the Timing Ability and Performance of Bond Mutual Funds”, Yong Chen, Wayne Ferson and Helen Peters evaluate the ability of U.S. bond fund managers to time nine common factors related to bond returns. The nine factors reflect the term structure of interest rates, credit and liquidity spreads, currency exchange rates, mortgage spread and equity market returns. The authors also define seven benchmarks matching different bond fund styles. Using monthly returns for more than 1,400 U.S. bond mutual funds and contemporaneous bond market factor and benchmark data during January 1962 through March 2007, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Mutual Fund Momentum Measure Fly-off

Which measure of mutual fund momentum best predicts future fund returns? In his August 2009 paper entitled “The 52-Week High, Momentum, and Predicting Mutual Fund Returns”, Travis Sapp examines the intermediate-term future performance of mutual funds ranked by: (1) nearness to the one-year high of the fund share net asset value; (2) prior six-month fund return; and, (3) fund sensitivity to stock return momentum. Using mutual fund returns for a broad sample of U.S. common stock funds and risk-adjustment data over the period 1970-2004, he concludes that: Keep Reading

Due Diligence on Hedge Funds

What does due diligence discover about hedge funds? If outperformance attracts due diligence investigations, does this outperformance persist after the investigations? In the June 2009 draft of their paper entitled “Trust and Delegation”, Stephen Brown, William Goetzmann, Bing Liang and Christopher Schwarz characterize the findings of formal hedge fund due diligence investigations and measure their timing with respect to fund performance. Using a sample of 444 hedge fund due diligence reports (typically 100-200 pages each) from a major hedge fund due diligence firm spanning 2003-2008, along with associated fund performance data, they conclude that: Keep Reading

The Value of Fundamental Investment Research?

Is it possible to measure the value of fundamental investment research? How does the degree of measurability affect the behaviors of investors and financial markets? In the June 2009 version of his paper entitled “Investment Research: How Much is Enough?”, Bradford Cornell speculates on answers to these questions. Citing a range of research on mutual fund research practices and performance, he concludes that: Keep Reading

Best Ideas of Mutual Fund Managers

How many stocks within an equity fund manager’s portfolio represent truly “passionate” (high-conviction) picks? Do passionate picks outperform the diversifying “fillers” in the portfolio, and the market in general? In the March 2009 version of their paper entitled “Best Ideas”, Randy Cohen, Christopher Polk, and Bernhard Silli attempt to identify which holdings in equity mutual fund portfolios represent the high-conviction “Best Ideas” of the fund managers and then measure the performance those stocks after the conviction becomes apparent. They identify high-conviction holdings via several measures that indicate unusually high commitment (tilt) of funds to specific stocks, with the “Best Idea” in a portfolio being the stock with the highest tilt. Using monthly stock returns and quarterly fund holdings data for U.S. equity mutual funds over the period 1991-2005, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Mutual Fund Stock Selection vs. Market Timing

Can investors assess the performance of an active fund manager without access to the fund’s detailed trading records (especially trades not evident from quarterly holdings reports)? In the February 2009 update of his paper entitled “Active Alpha and Active Beta – Detecting the Unobserved Actions of Portfolio Managers”, Anders Ekholm presents a new methodology for indirectly measuring the effects of a fund manager’s trading that relies exclusively on portfolio returns. His approach decomposes fund tracking error into two aspects of active management: stock selection (idiosyncratic risk, or active alpha) and general market timing (systemic risk, or active beta). Applying this methodology to daily returns for a sample of actively managed U.S. equity mutual funds over the period 12/31/99-3/31/08, he finds that: Keep Reading

Morningstar Ratings and Future Returns

Does the Morningstar mutual fund rating system work? If so, how? In their March 2009 paper entitled “Selectivity, Market Timing and the Morningstar Star-Rating System”, Antonios Antypas, Guglielmo Caporale, Nikolaos Kourogenis and Nikitas Pittis investigate whether Morningstar mutual fund ratings enable investors to select funds that are likely to outperform in the future. Using data for 1,511 rated equity mutual funds since January 1998, they conclude that: Keep Reading

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