There’s a famous market saying “As goes January, so goes the year.” The same can be said of last year’s January market mania and some of the 2021 hedge fund returns.
In a year where the market lifted many funds higher, GameStop proved to still have an outsized impact on numbers for some of the funds on each side of the trade.
Senvest Management – which famously made “one of the great fortunes of the January market mania,” as the Wall Street Journal described it, by being long GameStop ahead of the frenzy – generated full-year returns of 85 percent, according to an investor familiar with the numbers.
In the year through November, Senvest, with $3.2 billion in assets under management, stood as the best-performing hedge fund, according to figures tallied by HSBC. And it’s likely that the firm’s full-year performance allowed them to maintain that standing.
Other side of the GameStop trade
Those who were on the opposite side of the GameStop trade had a harder time recovering. Melvin Capital, which met the ire of retail traders due to a publicly disclosed put position on the video-game retailer, posted losses of 39 percent in 2021, according to a person with knowledge of the figures.
However, after January, Melvin was firmly positive, with returns of 33 percent between Feb. 1 and Dec. 31, the person said. The firm ended the year with $11.7 billion in assets.
The tale of two hedge funds shows the enduring impact of the volatility surrounding GameStop during the first month of 2021 and how it contributed to returns and losses for institutional investors for the full year.
Citadel, led by Ken Griffin, and Steve Cohen’s Point72 made a $2.75 billion cash infusion to help stabilize Melvin in the midst of the short squeeze. Ultimately, Citadel redeemed some of that capital, but both firms, under their agreement, are entitled to a slice of Melvin’s revenue and returns.
For its own overall performance, Citadel posted double digit gains, with its flagship Wellington Fund up 26 percent last year, net of fees, according to a person with knowledge of the figures. Point72 showed gains of 9.2 percent, two people said.
But, perhaps, the real winner was GameStop, up 670 percent in 2021.
Hedge fund performance for 2021
Returns last ear for select hedge funds are below, according to CNBC sources:
Citadel/Wellington Flagship: +3.88% in Dec. and up 26.26% for the year
D.E. Shaw Composite Intl Fund: 0.17% in Dec. and up 18.5% for the year
Point72: 1.83% in Dec. and up 9.22% for the year
Balyasny Atlas Enhanced: 0.67% in December and 8.29% for the year
Exodus Point: up 2.25% in December and up 5.50% for the year
Carlson Capital (Double Black Diamond): 2.9% in December, 13.3% for the year
Sculptor Master Fund: up 0.13% in December and up 5% for the year (confirmed by SEC filing)
Pershing Square Holdings: 5.7% in December 26.9% for the year (confirmed by website)
Greenlight: +9.5% in December and 11.9% in 2021
Melvin +3% in December, -39% for 2021
Senvest, +85% for 2021