Distressed debt managers are racking up the best performance of fixed-income hedge funds, according to LMW sister publication BondWeek, which highlights Highland Capital Management and Schultze Partners as two of the top performers. More conservative arbitrage funds are posting more modest returns and some are even in the red.
Highland's Crusader Fund is up 27% year to date. Jack Yang, a partner at Highland, attributed the $500 million distressed fund's performance to its focus on "control-oriented situations, middle market companies in combination with proprietary sourcing capabilities and senior secured loans." Schultze, a Purchase, N.Y.-based distressed fund has a 35% return year-to-date, said George Schultze, founder and portfolio manager. The fund has $120 million under management and an additional $45 million in commitments. Schultze's strategies include going long bonds and bank debt and shorting equities.
Distressed hedge funds are up 9.8% through September, according to an index by Van Hedge Fund Advisors International, an advisory firm in Nashville, Tenn. Meanwhile, the firm's fixed-income arb index has only outperformed the Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index by 4.4% so far this year, compared to annual outperformance of more than 9% each year since 2000. Van characterizes arbitrage funds as those taking positions in assets including mortgage-backed securities and their derivatives to exploit interest-rate related opportunities.