Hedge funds disappoint in 2012, but long-term risk-adjusted returns vastly higher than equities

Bank of America Merrill Lynch's notes in its Hedge Fund Monitor newsletter that the Global Diversified Hedge Fund index was up 5.63% in 2012, compared to a total return of 16% for the S&P 500 index. Distressed credit and event-driven strategies performed the best, up 9.61% and 9.10%, respectively; while short biased and managed futures posted the worst returns - down 14.31% and 3.13, respectively. 2012 was the fifth-worst year for the hedge fund index since 1995, which has returned an average of 9.2% per year since then, compared to 10.2% for the S&P 500. However, given the S&P 500's average annual standard deviation of 20.1%, vs. 10.4% for the Diversified Global HF index; hedge funds post a Sharpe ratio more than 1.5 times higher than the blue-chip index.