Alternative Markets Outlook H2 2019
The asset management industry experienced significant declines in 2018. Alternative assets achieved the best performance among non traditional long asset classes. The popularity of actively managed assets is decreasing for the last 15 years, while passive solutions and alternatives are gaining more attention, which is likely to continue. It is expected that the industry will experience more volatile markets, increased competition and more economic uncertainty. Especially the uncertainties will increase, for example how the US-Chinese trade war will develop, with the background of new elections in the US in 2020. Europe's uncertainty will peak on how Brexit is executed at the end of October.
Hedge funds remain strong in July after a very profitable H1 2019 and reached a new record level of market capitalization of $3.273tn. In July, hedge funds yielded positive results again. The aggregated average performance of hedge in the current year is at 7.67%, which is likely to continue. Figure 1 shows the performance of several hedge fund strategies. Noteworthy is that none of them generated negative return. The interest rate cut of the FED is likely to increase the attractiveness of hedge funds further.
Investors are currently moving cash from equity strategies to lower beta strategies, as equity markets have reached all-time highs. For H1 2019, targeted strategies were mostly credit multi-strategy and relative value arbitrage strategies. However, this shifted to macro, CTA, currency and commodity funds in July 2019 and is likely to continue during H2 2019. Despite the trade war between the US and China, the allocated capital from hedge funds in China increased further. This conflict is likely to shape the general performance of financial markets, especially in the hedge fund industry. Due to current and expected interest rate decisions from most central banks as well as the volatility of currencies, hedge funds are looking for safe havens. Gold is experiencing an increased demand, causing the price per ounce to rise to the highest level since 2016 and $1600 or even $2000 is forecasted from major US investment banks.
Our in-house strategies followed a same pattern during the first quarter of the year, with three out of our top five managers being US Equity focused funds. The manager that invests in high conviction ideas of carefully selected hedge fund managers is enjoying a very strong quarter followed by a US equity strategy focussed on TMT, helthcare and consumer sectors with specific interest in innovation and disruptive technologies. The recent rally in cryptocurrencies led our active altcoin manager to strong performance during February and March, bringing the strategy in our top five table for the first time since 2017. Our activist strategy suffered in March, despite a really strong performance on its underlying portfolio during January and February. Finally, our discretionary global macro strategy had one of its best months ever since inception posting an astonishing +15.27%, mainly from running long duration positions in the US, Australia and New Zealand and mixed duration positioning in Europe, complemented by bond auction trading gains.
STONE MOUNTAIN CAPITAL RESEARCH PERSPECTIVE VOL.88
Our in-house strategies in credit, equity and fund of funds, as measured by our indices, have performed better in the first half of the year than their traditional and alternative peers. Tactical trading is still lagging due to the struggling performance of the actively managed altcoin strategy this year mainly driven by falling bitcoin prices. Equities are the top performing and the bucket that has the most representatives in the top-5 performing table, followed by credit/fixed income strategies.