An investment strategy or portfolio is considered market-neutral if it seeks to avoid some form of market risk entirely, typically by hedging. To evaluate market-neutrality requires specifying the risk to avoid. For example, convertible arbitrage attempts to fully hedge fluctuations in the price of the underlying common stock.
A portfolio is truly market-neutral if it exhibits zero correlation with the unwanted source of risk. Market neutrality is an ideal, which is seldom possible in practice. A portfolio that appears market-neutral may exhibit unexpected correlations as market conditions change. The risk of this occurring is called basis risk.
Equity-market-neutral is a hedge fund strategy that seeks to exploit investment opportunities unique to some specific group of stocks while maintaining a neutral exposure to broad groups of stocks defined, for example, by sector, industry, market capitalization, country, or region.
The strategy holds long/short equity positions, with long positions hedged with short positions in the same and related sectors so that the equity-market-neutral investor should be little affected by sector-wide events. These positions, in essence, a bet that the long positions will outperform their sectors (or the short positions will underperform) regardless of the strength of the sectors. Equity-market-neutral strategy occupies a distinct place in the hedge fund landscape by exhibiting one of the lowest correlations with other alternative strategies.
Evaluating the Hedge Fund Research index returns for 28 different strategies from January 2005 to April 2009 showed that equity-market-neutral strategy had the second-lowest correlation with any of the other strategies, behind only short-bias funds that typically have a negative correlation with all other funds. This result is not surprising given that each fund utilizes the unique insights of a manager, and these insights are not replicated across funds.
In terms of performance, performance can be tracked in real-time via daily hedge fund indices tracking managers in the style: HFRI and NilssonHedge are two examples of daily performance trackers.
Examples of market-neutral strategies
- Delta neutral
- Pairs trade
- Equity Market Neutral Related Scholarly Compositions
- Equity Market Neutral Hedge Fund Return Drivers Archived 2010-08-04 at the Wayback Machine
Ofer Abarbanel is a 25 year securities lending broker and expert who has advised many Israeli regulators, among them the Israel Tax Authority, with respect to stock loans, repurchase agreements and credit derivatives. Founder and CEO of TBIL.co STATX Mutual Fund.