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Morningstar, Inc. Reports Hedge Fund Performance for the Third-Quarter 2008


Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Author: Morningstar.com

Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a leading provider of independent investment research, today reported a summary of hedge fund performance for the third quarter of 2008. Hedge funds reported the worst losses in the Morningstar Hedge Fund Index’s history, which began in January 2003. In September, the Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund index dropped 7.87%, more than double August`s losses. Hedge funds entered the third quarter virtually flat for the year, but the index`s 13.17% third-quarter drop dragged year-to-date performance into the red.

`In September, the financial world as we know it turned upside down. We saw a shakeout in the hedge fund industry all around the globe. Hedge funds experienced poor borrowing, hedging, and trading conditions while liquidity dried up and volatility skyrocketed,` said Morningstar hedge fund analyst Nadia Van Dalen. Hedge funds were affected by extreme and unforeseen events during the month, including failures and takeovers of mortgage agencies, banks, insurers, and prime brokers. Both the Treasury EuroDollar spread—the difference between interest rates on inter-bank loans and T-bills that implies lack of market liquidity—and the Chicago Board of Options Exchange Index (VIX) that measures equity volatility reached record highs.

As the world watched in anticipation of a U.S. government bailout, the global equity markets roiled. The Morningstar Global Equity Hedge Fund Index lost 11.22% in September. The Morningstar Europe Equity Hedge Fund Index declined 9.62% during the month but outperformed the MSCI Europe Index by more than five percentage points, while the Morningstar US Equity Hedge Fund Index underperformed the SandP 500 Index by more than one percentage point. Developed Asia and emerging markets equity hedge funds managed to avoid some of the market losses, as these indexes outperformed the MSCI AC Asia Index and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index by about five percentage points in September. For the year to date, however, these emerging markets funds have taken more than a 30% hit.

Hedging proved difficult for hedge funds this month. The SEC and the FSA announced temporary bans on shorting financial stocks. Many convertible arbitrage funds taking long positions in financial sector convertible bonds were unable to hedge with short stock positions. The Morningstar Convertible Arbitrage Hedge Fund Index lost 12.39% in September. Fortunately, some equity arbitrage hedge funds were able to avoid financials. The Morningstar Equity Arbitrage Hedge Fund Index lost only 4.60%.

Debt-oriented hedge funds also experienced hedging problems. Credit default swaps, a common way to hedge bond exposure, became more expensive and less attractive with fears of default and counterparty risk. Both the Morningstar Debt Arbitrage and the Morningstar Global Debt Hedge Fund Indexes underperformed global and U.S. bonds, losing 4.39% and 7.50% respectively. The Morningstar Distressed Securities Hedge Fund Index closed the month down 6.21% as risky debt yields rose.

Global trend following hedge funds actually profited from some of the downward trends in the market, as these funds trade stock index futures as well as interest rates, currencies, and commodities. The Morningstar Global Trend Hedge Fund Index lost only 1.26% in September, the best-performing category other than short equity. The Morningstar Global Non-trend Index, comprised of funds with a more macro-economic approach, slid only 1.56%.

Funds of funds performed in line with the Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund Index, outperforming the index by about 20 basis points in September, but falling slightly short for the quarter and year to date. The Morningstar Multistrategy Hedge Fund Index underperformed the overall index by about 200 basis points in September.

Returns are based on hedge funds in the Morningstar indexes that reported performance as of October 12, 2008. Morningstar has approximately 8,500 hedge funds and funds of hedge funds in its database. The company recently launched the Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund Index, a global, broadly representative benchmark for hedge fund performance. The index is composed of the top 90% of eligible assets in Morningstar’s hedge fund database. For the purposes of the index, Morningstar counts funds with shared portfolios as a single hedge fund; funds of hedge funds are excluded from consideration. The index is updated daily for the previous month-end, rebalanced monthly, and reconstituted semi-annually. In addition, Morningstar has 17 category indexes and four broad category indexes based on Morningstar’s strategy-specific classification system for hedge funds.

This press release is not intended to be an offer or solicitation for the sale of hedge funds. The information is not warranted to be accurate, complete, or timely. When considering hedge funds, investors should consider various risks, including the fact that some products engage in leveraging and other speculative investment practices that may increase the risk of investment loss, can be illiquid, are not required to provide periodic pricing or valuation information to investors, may involve complex tax structures and delays in distributing important tax information, are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as mutual funds, often charge high fees, and in many cases the underlying investments are not transparent and are known only to the investment manager. The high degree of leverage that is often obtainable in trading can lead to large losses as well as gains. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

About Morningstar, Inc.
Morningstar, Inc. is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company offers an extensive line of Internet, software, and print-based products and services for individuals, financial advisors, and institutions. Morningstar provides data on more than 280,000 investment offerings, including stocks, mutual funds, and similar vehicles. The company has operations in 18 countries and minority ownership positions in companies based in three other countries. For more information about Morningstar, visit www.morningstar.com.