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Exit Frexit: Special Situations and CTAs take the Podium

All strategies were up last week. Hedge funds captured the upside which was a function of the protections implemented ahead of the French vote. Special Situations outperformed, as their cyclical and turnaround positions surged. CTAs’ strong long equity exposure offset losses in their short Euro and in their long Euro bonds.

Article also available in : English EN | français FR

Unlike the surveys ahead of the UK referendum and the U.S. elections, French election polls seemed to be more reliable. The chances of Le Pen winning the presidency seem to be very slim and not within margins of error. The medium-term risk of a Frexit has substantially subsided. Yet, the clear lead of Macron (expected to win by 59 to 64%) cannot overshadow the powerful anti-establishment call also expressed in the vote. The leeway to lead reforms in France will be tested during the June general elections. Neither candidate comes from a mainstream party, it is not clear that they would obtain a governing majority.

Unsurprisingly, global risk assets surged. The Euro settled at around +1.5%, Euro-banks surged +8%, the French OAT vs. Bund 10Y spread shrunk by 15 bps, and gold lost about - 1%.

All strategies were up last week. Hedge funds captured the upside which was a function of the protections implemented ahead of the French vote. Special Situations outperformed, as their cyclical and turnaround positions surged. CTAs’ strong long equity exposure offset losses in their short Euro and in their long Euro bonds. By contrast, hedges and relative positioning in Global Macro and L/S Equity funds capped the upside.

Markets and hedge funds were also supported by an upbeat earning season. In Europe, the fading political risk benefitted most reporting companies, with less regards to their fundamentals. Stocks rose across the board, however, alpha generation was modest. We expect the stock-picking environment to improve as investors refocus on companies’ fundamentals and on the European recovery.

In the U.S., in-line earning announcements no longer suffice to translate into meaningful stock performance. Expensive valuations and high Q1 earnings expectations are spurring more acute fundamental discrimination. In contrast with Europe, fund managers make do with more modest market contribution, but they benefit from better alpha prospects. This should support neutral U.S. funds and longer bias L/S Equity funds in Europe.

Lyxor Research , May 5

Article also available in : English EN | français FR

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