Bridge over ocean
1 March 2002 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 58, Issue 2

Battle for Alphas: Hedge Funds versus Long-Only Portfolios

  1. Duen-Li Kao

The study reported here empirically examined whether the alphas of hedge funds and those of long-only portfolios present different distributions and are derived from different risk factors. Adjusted for return volatility differences, hedge funds seem to offer more consistent alphas for potential transfer to either equity or bond asset classes than do long-only portfolios—even under extreme market conditions. Potential explanations for the findings include lack of data reliability and differences between hedge funds and actively managed long-only funds in compensation, investment constraints, and structures. Factors related to market index returns do not adequately detect hedge funds' risk postures beyond a fund's exposure to the market-directional risk of standard asset classes. Risk factors derived from asset prices in financial markets do provide timely and systematic descriptions of the risks underlying trading strategies used by hedge funds. The multifactor style-risk analysis presented here can effectively monitor a hedge fund's exposure to systematic versus idiosyncratic risks and volatility-risk factors over time.

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