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Australian absolute return and hedge funds enjoyed one of their best performances on record in 2009, according to a report by Australian Fund Monitors.

Single funds across all strategies returned 20.81 per cent for their investors after all fees as equity markets rebounded sharply from the sell off of 2008 and early 2009.

The ASX had a stellar year, rising just over 30 per cent, but still remained below its previous highs of November 2007 following the fall of over 41 per cent in 2008. The ASX still has considerable ground to make up before reaching that point or approaching the returns of the local hedge fund sector.

Only 18 per cent of the 241 funds tracked by AFM outperformed the ASX. This compares with 2008 when 91 per cent of funds outperformed the ASX in a falling market.

At the strategy level, equity long was the best performing at 40.88 per cent as local and offshore equity markets recovered. The sector provided significantly better returns than either the ASX 200 or the S&P 500 over the 12, 24, 36 and 60 month time frames.

Equity long was followed by equity 130/30 (33.54 per cent), equity long/short (25.59 per cent) and equity buy/write (16.76 per cent).

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