10 of the Best Managed Futures Programs of 2014

Best of 2014We’ve been talking about Managed Futures 2014 performance a bit in this space… after it took 2nd place in the 2014 Asset Class Scoreboard (beating out the ever so popular U.S. Stock asset class).

But managed futures investors typically don’t invest in the asset class, they invest in managed futures programs (and funds). They invest in real managers doing real trades with real money. Which brings us to… the top such managers (by returns only) last year. Now, some of these yearly numbers will make you look twice, they sure did for us.  And we will make sure to say that one year’s performance doesn’t make a track record. It’s just as important, if not more so, to look at risk metrics like the all time maximum drawdown we list below, and to see how the program does year over year on a risk adjusted basis. But, these are some impressive yearly numbers, so we’ll give some credit where credit is due.

(Disclaimer: past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Programs listed consist of those with at least a 3 year track record tracked by Attain Capital Management for investment by clients via managed accounts and do not represent all available programs in the managed futures universe.  The Max DD represents the worst drawdown of all time for the listed programs).

Top 10 CTA's of 20142014 RORMax DDMin. Invst.
Purple Valley Capital - Diversified Trend88.58%-49.34%1,000,000
Dreiss Research Corp. (QEP)85.89%-51.44%1,000,000
Mulvaney Capital -- Global Markets (QEP)67.37%-45.02%10,000,000

Silicon Valley Quantitative -- UQP Small65.80%-41.61%200,000
Tactical Investment -- Instl. Comm. (QEP)50.06%-41.51%10,000,000
Somers Brothers Capital -- Diversified Futures49.49%-33.56%800,000
Schindler Capital -- Daily Advantage 48.98%-41.49%100,000
KeyQuantSAS -- Key Trends (QEP)46.19%-19.15%10,000,000
Southwest Mngd -- Global Diversified 44.94%-32.79%200,000
Ancile Capital -- Global Markets42.75%-16.18%1,000,000

(Disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results)

P.S. — If we didn’t have that 3yr track record min requirement, this program’s +200% annual return would’ve been at the top.

P.P.S. — While December seems all but a memory, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the the top 10 list for the month gone by, as we’ve done all year. Here’s December’s winners:

Top 10 CTA's of DecemberDec. RORMax DDMin. Invst.
Futures Trade AG - Swing Trading14.60%-29.15%250,000
Westphal Trading -- Trend Following10.00%-26.10%500,000
Tactical Investment -- Instl. Comm. (QEP)9.92%-41.51%10,000,000
Mulvaney Capital -- Global Markets (QEP)9.05%-45.02%10,000,000
QMS Capital -- Global Macro (QEP)8.73%-11.27%25,000,000
Mark J. Walsh & Company - Standard 8.65%-43.04%2,000,000
Hyman Beck & Company -- Global (QEP)8.50%-33.24%1,000,000
Vail Trading -- Mosaic 8.40%-20.98%4,000,000
Silicon Valley Quantitative -- UQP Small 8.06%-41.61%200,000
MN Xenon -- Managed Futures 2X (QEP)7.56%-35.04%2,000,000

(Disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results)
Image Courtesy: CFA Institute

Alternative Links: The Swiss Franc

Swiss Franc:

David Harding on the Swiss Franc Move – (CNBC)

The Swiss (Franc) isn’t that Neutral – (Attain Alternatives Blog)

Hedge Funds Dodge Shock Move From Swiss National Bank – (ValueWalk)


Michael Covel Interview with Meb Faber – (Trend Following Radio)

Trend Following:

Managed futures funds shine anew, but mystery remains – (Investment News)

10 Myths about Momentum Investing, Squashed (Momentum is not Trend Following) – (Quant Investing)


Futures regulator dogged by questions on conflicts, governance – (Crains Chicago)

Commodity Funds:

After harsh commodity fund shakeout, even the winners see tough times ahead – (Reuters)

5 Reasons This Crude Move is Unbelievable

It’s been one amazing sell off in Crude Oil; so amazing we can’t stop writing about it. We’ve covered the long term picture of Crude, The Best Tweets from Crude’s Drop, How to Play a Bounce , and everyone else’s  articles on crude. But we can’t stop staring at it… We’re the commodity focused moth to the proverbial flame.

But why is this sell off so amazing? What’s special about it?

1.  The sheer velocity. How incredibly steep and unrelenting this down trend has been, for starters:

[Read more…]

A History Lesson in the VIX and Volatility

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! It’s an important time to remember one of our nation’s great American heros, what he advocated for, and his accomplishments.

On an unrelated note, this three day weekend is a painful reminder in the investment space… after a huge volatility spike… which was what some say was the beginnings of what later became the financial crisis if 2008-2009 {Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results}. Last year, we covered this six year anniversary, and we feel it’s important to revisit each year. Here’s “A Different Kind of History Lesson (The VIX).”

[Read more…]

The Swiss (Franc) isn’t all that Neutral

While the East Coast was just waking up from a long nights slumber and the West Coast was still dreaming of Oscar nominations, the supposedly neutral Swiss detonated the biggest bomb the financial markets have seen in quite some time. A surprise attack of sorts as they decided to depeg the Swiss Franc from the Euro, which it has been attached to since September 2011, with little to no warning given. For any traders or managers out there with Swiss exposure, this is a morning they’ll remember for the rest of their careers…

The Swiss Franc spiked by almost 30% against the Euro, and around 25.40% against the US Dollar index in just hours, moving from under 1.00 to over 1.22 between 4 AM and 5 AM EST.  

Here’s the Swiss Franc against the USD in 5 minute intervals.

[Read more…]

Alternative Links: Record Volume and Performance

“CTAs are computer driven hedge funds, also known as managed futures funds, that use algorithms designed to take advantage of trends in global markets.”

Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs) End Three-Year Losing Streak – (The Wall Street Journal)

How To Educate Your Clients on Managed Futures – (Top Traders Unplugged)

Managed futures as an anti-fragile strategy – (Lakewood View)

Managed Futures Performance:

Managed Futures Funds See Outflows Despite Strong ’14 Returns – (FIN Alternatives)

Investor sentiment slow to shift in favour of macro & managed futures, says eVestment – (HedgeWeek)

ISAM, Managed Futures Dominate HSBC Rankings for 2014 – (Value Walk)

Commodity crush fuels managed futures returns – (Financial Post)

Managed Futures Post Best Yearly Performance since 2008 – (Attain Alternatives Blog)

Attain Funds 2014 Performance – (Attain Alternatives Blog)

Record Trading Volume:

CME Group Sees Record Volumes in 2014 – (CME  Group)

CME Infographic

CME Graphic

2014 Commodity Exposure: Futures vs ETFs

Throughout the year, we track a simple strategy of buying the 12 month out Futures contract against the commodity ETFs that supposedly track those very same futures, to see just how the performance lines up; knowing that ETFs typically are the ones that underperform because of the contract roll. For more on how this looks long term, see our recent deeper look into the $USO Oil ETF.

But regardless of whether you’re tracking correctly – the concept of buying and holding commodities, whether it be via futures, or via ETFs via futures – isn’t proving to be all that great anyway, with an average performance of -7%, compared to the ETFs -11% (and -12% and -16% if don’t include Coffee). It was one of the worst years ever for long only commodities, with the $DBC commodity ETF falling -28% {Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results}.

We’re biased, of course; but we think the better way to have commodity exposure in your portfolio is a “Long/Short” Commodity Strategy; which profits from the rise or fall in prices. We’re talking about Managed Futures, which as a whole, had one of its best years since 2008. {Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results}.

Commodity ETF Over/Under Performance 2014

Crude Oil$CL_F
Brent Oil$NBZ_F
Natural Gas$NG_F
Live Cattle$LE_F
Lean Hogs$LH_F
Average without Coffee-12.14%-15.92%-3.77%
Commodity Index $DBC-28.07%
Long/Short Ag Trader CTAs3.17%

(Disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results)
(Disclaimer: Sugar uses the October contract, Soybeans the November contract.)
Long/Short Ag Trader CTA = Barclayhedge Ag Traders Index)