Hedge funds rebounded in 2019, gaining 9% after posting a loss the year before.
The results were nothing to celebrate — the S&P 500 Index returned 32% last year in the longest-running bull market in history.
Last year's performance may put further pressure on an industry struggling to keep investors from bolting. Hedge funds saw $82 billion of outflows through November, more than twice the amount for all of 2018, according to eVestment data. The industry is now on pace to record more closures than startups for a fifth straight year, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc.
Hedge funds rose 1.5% in December, according to preliminary figures compiled by Bloomberg and published Tuesday.
The gains for 2019 were led by equity funds, which jumped 12%, the data show. Macro funds posted a 6.4% increase, the best performance since 2014.
Here's how other hedge funds have fared:
- Ray Dalio suffered his first annual loss since 2000 in his most prominent fund. Bridgewater Associates Pure Alpha II fund fell 0.5% last year, even as many of his peers posted some of their best returns since 2008.
- Bill Ackman's publicly traded hedge fund soared 58% in 2019 — its best performance on record. The top contributors to the gains included Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Starbucks Corp., Lowe's Cos. and Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International Inc.
- David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital rebounded from its worst slump ever in 2018 with a 14% gain last year. The returns were helped by a surge in homebuilder Green Brick Partners Inc., its largest disclosed U.S. stock position as of Sept. 30. Still, some of Einhorn's short wagers, including Tesla Inc., may have dragged on returns.
- D.E. Shaw & Co.'s flagship hedge fund extended its winning streak, rising about 10.5% last year.
- Soroban Capital Partners, the hedge fund firm co-founded by Eric Mandelblatt, returned 45% in 2019, beating many of its stock-picking peers.
- Russell Clark's hedge fund closed out 2019 with its biggest annual loss ever — 35% — as his short bets went awry. The Horseman Global Fund has persistently wagered against equities since 2012, and raised its net short position to a record 111% of gross assets in October. By contrast, the firm's smaller Horseman European Select strategy gained from its long wagers on stocks to end the year up 38%.