IMG
Risk Assets on the Rise and Supportive Alpha: a Nice Cocktail for Hedge Funds

Markets have gone back and forth while assessing the prospects for Trump’s economic plans and the timing of U.S. rate hikes. Last week, risk assets in DM and EM progressed, stirred by supportive data and Trump’s plans to unveil a “phenomenal” tax policy. Most hedge funds headed north.

Article also available in : English EN | français FR

Markets have gone back and forth while assessing the prospects for Trump’s economic plans and the timing of U.S. rate hikes. Last week, risk assets in DM and EM progressed, stirred by supportive data and Trump’s plans to unveil a “phenomenal” tax policy. Most hedge funds headed north. CTAs thrived on their long equities. Macro funds’ dollar crosses were also rewarded. Special Situation funds benefited from the increasing prospect of corporate activity.

Additionally, L/S Equity funds continued to make steady progress. We took a close look at the earnings reports this season, usually a reliable barometer of the alpha environment. It is well underway in the US, where 80% of the S&P 500 companies reported earnings and revenues which were up +5.5% and +4.7% y/y, respectively (sce: Bloomberg).

This confirms an on-going profit recovery with, unlike other recent earnings seasons, decent top-line growth.

These encouraging trends weren’t unexpected: earnings surprises were in line with historical averages, while revenue surprises and EPS beats underwhelmed. As a result, stock prices progressed before reports, but slightly receded afterward. Moderate trading volumes emphasized investors’ wait-and-see stance amid high policy uncertainty. However, the decline in stock volatility after earnings announcements reflected persisting optimism. The dispersion in surprises was mild, except in the consumer discretionary, staples and energy sectors.

While these patterns suggest a limited potential for stock picking, this season actually made strong room for fundamental pricing. The momentum in individual stock prices was closely in line with that in their earnings and revenues.

Further, in contrast with the Q3 season, which saw returns mainly driven by sector moves (after the U.S. elections), this season returns were largely idiosyncratic.

It is true that modest stock dispersion and the gyrations in politics cap the potential for value extraction. However, low stock correlation, the dominance of fundamental pricing, and multiple corporate catalysts are providing strong tailwinds benefitting stock pickers. We continue to favor the fundamental approaches in the US - including neutral equity and event driven funds.

Lyxor Research 22 February

Article also available in : English EN | français FR

Tags


Share


Comment

In the same section