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Hedge Funds off to Good Start in 2012 with Apple

A clutch of big-name hedge fund managers have gotten off to a quick start in 2012. What have they got in common? Apple.

It’s almost all about Apple.

Hedge funds have gotten off to a pretty good start this year, according to the results of a half dozen or so high profile investors that have already reported their results to clients. Yet none of them are beating the overall market.

More importantly, the early look at performance indicates it helped to have a big position in Apple, which surged 34 percent in the first two months alone.

For example, Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital was up 1.8 percent in February and 4.5 percent for the year. This compares with a 9 percent gain for the S&P 500 during the first two months.

And although he owned more than 2,100 individual issues in his nearly $16 billion equity-oriented portfolio, his $443 million stake in Apple was his largest position entering the new year.

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital was up 3.2 percent in February and 6 percent for the year. As of February 29 his largest disclosed long positions were Apple, Arkema, General Motors, gold, Market Vectors Gold Miners and Seagate Technology, according to Greenlight Reinsurance, the insurance company controlled by Einhorn. It points out that investment returns are based on the total assets in its investment account, which are managed by DME Advisors and include the majority of its equity capital and collected premiums.

Ken Griffin’s Citadel, whose funds were up more than 20 percent in 2011, is also off to a fast start. The Kensington Fund is up 5.05 percent through February while Wellington is up 5.20 percent.

Apple accounted for $5 billion of his $44 billion equity portfolio at the beginning of the year, according to regulatory filings.

Dan Loeb’s Third Point Offshore Fund rose 1 percent in February and 4.9 percent for the year. It noted in a monthly report that its five top gainers for the month were Delphi, Apple, a Medco/Express Scripts arbitrage trade, Depfa Bank — a Dublin-based German-Irish bank — and Ally Financial.

Going into March, Apple was Loeb’s fifth largest position. The top four were Yahoo, gold, Eksportfinans ASA — a Norwegian export lender — and Delphi.

Dan Och’s OZ Master Fund, which is managed very conservatively, generated a 1.54 percent gain in February, putting it up 3.15 percent for the year. OZ Europe Master Fund is up 3.84 through the first two months; OZ Asia Master Fund is up 4.90 percent, while OZ Global Special Investments Master Fund has risen 3.19 percent.

One major fund that is lagging the group is Alan Howard’s BH Macro, which invests all of its assets in the Brevan Howard Master Fund. Through Friday February 24 — with three trading days left in the month — he was up just 0.40 percent in February and 1.30 percent for the year.

But keep in mind that Howard is still structured in the same manner that enabled him to generate a 12 percent return last year.

In January it made money mainly in interest rates trading and to a lesser extent in credit trading, according to a report to clients. It suffered small losses in foreign exchange macro trading and in equity trading.

And Izzy Englander’s Millennium, which took a lot of risk off the table starting last August, was up just 0.55 percent in February and 2 percent for the year.

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