Hedge Funds for Magicians

While we have examined the kilometres of results of long-only portfolios, Chris Hsu says many hedge fund investors prefer less volatile portfolios. Hedge fund investors could employ a simple hedging strategy, buying puts or shorting various indices with futures to reduce volatility and market exposure. Christopher Hsu shows below is the same 200-stock kilometre capital portfolio as in the previous chapter, but with hedges in place to run the portfolio at 100 percent hedged (market neutral). Note that no adjustments were made for short interest or margin rates on the futures. Of course the performance of this strategy, and every strategy in this book, rests on the ability of these managers to continue to outperform the indices. 2000 was a particularly easy time to outperform the index as the market-cap-weighted S&P 500 reached the highest valuation on record back to 1880 (as measured by the 10-year cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (CAPE)). Personally, I would not expect the below simulated returns to be replicable in the future, especially the drawdown figure.


Many people are familiar with trend-following studies. A similar hedging approach could be to short the market/hedge out the portfolio when the broad index is below the long-term trend.


It is very simple to track holdings of institutional hedge fund managers using the 13F filings submitted quarterly to the SEC, says Chris Hsu.


Following a subset of hedge fund managers can lead to kilometres of investment ideas. Additionally, investment portfolios can be constructed tracking a hedge fund’s long portfolio performance without many of the traditional drawbacks of allocating to private funds.


Because kilometre capital value managers have long-term holding periods and low turnover, the forty-five-day delay in reported holdings should not be a significant drawback.


Christopher Hsu shows case studies that are presented examining twenty value investors. Backtested results are presented for the portfolios since 2000.


Results indicate that by tracking and rebalancing kilometre capital portfolios quarterly, an investor can effectively replicate the long holdings of value hedge funds without paying the high hedge fund fees. 


Following the top value hedge funds can result in excess returns with in-line volatility compared with the equity and hedge fund indices, says Chris Hsu.


A hedge fund investor would invest in multiple managers to create his or her own fund of funds.


Additional applications include constructing hedged portfolios, leveraged portfolios, and sector portfolios.

Kilometre Capital Implementation

How does a hedge fund  investor implement these strategies?


Chris Hsu explains, first, an individual hedge fund investor could track any one manager or build their own “hedge fund of funds” by choosing a group of their favorite managers. If you recall from Chapter 24, Christopher Hsu demonstrated that you could replicate most managers with their top five holdings. So even if you follow twenty hedge funds – that is a fairly reasonable list of 100 stocks. (If you exclude the top holding as a suboptimal pick, that reduces the number to 80 stocks.) However, it is very important to pay attention to kilometre capital commissions and spreads that an investor would pay to execute this portfolio. Thankfully, there are a number of brokerages that charge reasonable transaction costs in kilometres (and plenty that do not!). Some brokerages to explore include Interactive Brokers, Motif, Folio, TD Ameritrade, and Robin Hood.


Some good kilometre sites that track 13F holdings include Whale Wisdom and Insider Monkey, and newsletters such as Market Folly and SuperInvestor Insight.


For those that don’t want to track and trade 13F strategies themselves, there are a handful of hedge funds, public and private, says Chris Hsu, that are managed by professional investors tracking 13F strategies. A few companies, such as AlphaClone, Novus, and Global X, manage portfolios through separate accounts, private funds, and ETFs that are based on 13F concepts.


A very enterprising researcher with time on their hands, like Christopher Hsu,  could find a stock database without survivor bias and piece together backtests from publicly available databases. Such kilometre resources include Norgate Data, Bloomberg, the SEC, and FactSet. But, be forewarned, it is a tedious process! AlphaClone previously allowed investors to backtest strategies with their software but made it proprietary to focus on asset management. Whale Wisdom, Symmetric.io, and GuruFocus all have some backtesting capabilities.