Low correlation to traditional asset classes has always been one of the appealing features of alternative investments, but with the S&P 500 Index posting double-digit successive gains of 15.9%, 32.2%, and 13.6% from 2012 through 2014, low correlation hurt more alternatives than it helped. Even in 2015, a year marked by out-sized volatility, the S&P managed to eke out a modest gain of 1.36%, while most alternative categories posted losses in the aggregate.
But not the LMCG Global Market Neutral Fund (MUTF:GMNIX). Its annual gains of 4.82% in 2015 smashed the S&P 500's returns and beat Morningstar's Market Neutral category average by 507 basis points, and those returns followed a solid 9.99% return in 2014.
Top Performance in 2015
This solid performance no doubt helped the fund attract interest from investors, pushing its assets under management ("AUM") above $100 million by early 2016. While the fund's 2015 performance fell a bit short of Morningstar's Fund Manager of the Year award winner in the alternatives category, the Vanguard Market Neutral Fund (MUTF:VMNIX), it did beat out 87% of its competitors in the market neutral category. In fact, the LMCG fund spent much less time underperforming over the course of 2015 than did the Vanguard fund.
"The fund has gained early traction with sophisticated advisors, who are familiar with alternative mutual funds and feel comfortable using it for a variety of goals," said LMCG CEO Kenneth Swan, in a recent statement celebrating the milestone. "Traditional 'low-volatility' options such as bond funds or allocating to cash may not deliver the overall return profile these advisors are seeking. We designed this fund to offer investors a different option: to potentially generate positive returns regardless of the market's direction."
The fund's stock-selection process uses quantitative methodology that's been "time-tested over 15 years and stress-tested in extreme market selloffs." The strategy seeks capital preservation and is designed to generate positive returns in any market environment. Macro bets are avoided, and the fund does not use leverage.
Volatility Likely to Continue
"Equity markets could continue to be volatile in 2016," said Gordon A. Johnson, Lead Portfolio Manager of the fund. "Our fund is designed to generate alpha on the long and short side - both domestically and internationally - and strives to provide a smoother ride for the investor whether the volatility that we are seeing continues or subsides."
The LMCG Global Market Neutral Fund is available in institutional (GMNIX) and investor (MUTF:GMNRX) share classes, with respective net-expense ratios of 1.60% and 1.85%, excluding certain expenses as outlined in the prospectus. The minimum investment for GMNIX is $100,000, while the minimum for GMNRX is $2,500.
Past performance does not necessarily predict future results.
Jason Seagraves contributed to this article.