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Event-driven takes a summer break

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For the first time since October 2016, the monthly performance of Event-Driven funds was in negative territory in August. The strategy remains nonetheless the stellar performer in 2017, up 5.7 per cent year to date according to the Lyxor Event Driven Broad index.

The summer air pocket was mainly due to the negative returns delivered by special situations funds (-1.8 per cent in August) which suffered losses on consumer holdings. Health care stocks such as NuVasive and Zimmer Biomet detracted from performance earlier in the month; while more recently Sotheby’s and Nestle dragged down the returns of special situations funds. Meanwhile, merger arbitrage funds stayed afloat (+0.1 per cent in August) despite the widening in deal spreads over the course of August. The NXP Semiconductors vs. Qualcomm planned merger continued to be an important driver of performance of merger funds last month, while Time Warner vs. AT&T was a detractor.
Philippe Ferreira (pictured), of Lyxor’s Cross Asset Research team writes: “On a positive note, CTAs continued to edge higher last week, and as signalled in the previous edition of this report, it is noteworthy that CTAs are presently less reliant on equity trends to generate returns than they were a few months ago. The Lyxor CTA Broad Index was up 1 per cent last week and 2.1 per cent in August while the MSCI World was flat in August. FX and fixed income trends were the main drivers of recent CTA performance. The continued fall in bond yields despite tight labour market conditions in the U.S. and price acceleration in the euro area in August failed to dent the downward trend in bond yields. In parallel, the Euro continued to appreciate versus the USD and that was also rewarding.
“Going forward, we maintain an overweight stance on Event Driven strategies. We believe the summer break is likely to be short lived. On the one hand, we still expect that the U.S. administration will be able to move forward with fiscal reform in the coming months. If confirmed, this is likely to foster corporate activity and provide opportunities for special situations funds. Meanwhile, with deal spreads at a wider level, we find merger arbitrage more attractive now than it was a few months ago. On top of that it is important to note that a few core holdings in merger portfolios are likely to experience a rerating in the deal price, which would fuel returns.”

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