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Ken Griffin's Citadel, Dan Loeb's Third Point Gain in First Quarter

Ken Griffin's Citadel and Dan Loeb's Third Point registered gains for the first quarter of 2012, but they still lagged the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite, which had their best quarters in years.

An initial picture of hedge fund results for the first quarter is emerging. Hedge funds performed pretty well in the first quarter, but still lagged the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite, which had their best quarters in years.

Ken Griffin’s Citadel has picked up where it left off last year. The Chicago-based hedge fund manager is up more than 8 percent in the first three months after posting a nearly 3 percent gain in March alone. Last year the multistrategy manager’s two main funds — Wellington and Kensington — were up more than 20 percent.

Little is known as to what drove this year’s gains.

Griffin’s performance was in line with the Dow Jones industrial average, which climbed 8.1 percent. Yet it lagged the S&P 500, which jumped 12 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite, which surged 19 percent.

Dan Loeb of Third Point, who is currently waging a proxy fight with Yahoo, posted a 6.5 percent gain in the first quarter. His biggest winners were Yahoo, Family Dollar Stores (a target of activists Nelson Peltz of Trian Fund Management and Bill Ackman of Pershing Square) Aveta, Apple and Portuguese sovereign bonds.

His biggest losers were Barrick Gold, Genel Energy, gold, Volkswagen and Ivanhoe Mines.

On the other hand, one of last year’s best performers — Alan Howard’s Breven Howard — is only up 0.72 percent so far this year after losing a fraction of a point in March. Last year he was up more than 12 percent.

This year’s reversal is not too surprising. Many of last year’s worst performers posted among the best gains in the first two months of this year. For example, many of last year’s worst performing stocks were those in the financial sector, which are currently among the stock market’s leaders.

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital gained 6.5 percent through the first quarter after eking out a 0.40 percent gain in March. As of March 31 his largest disclosed long positions were Apple, Arkema, General Motors, gold and Seagate Technology.

Shares of Apple surged 48 percent in the first quarter and accounts for 4 percent of the S&P 500 and 11 percent of the Nasdaq.

Meanwhile, Dan Och’s OZ Master Fund rose 1.22 percent in March and was up 4.52 percent in the quarter. His best performing fund so far this year is the OZ Asia Master Fund, up 5.68 percent.

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