We couldn’t resist this Bloomberg headline the other day: “Classic Cars, Lean Hogs and Duchamp Art Lead Alternative Investment Ranking” Cars, Hogs, and art… and an alternative investment ranking – this was going to be interesting.
Except the ranking is little more than the trailing 36 month returns – without mention of the volatility, drawdowns, or any other risk to the investments. And the so called “Alternatives” in the article seems to be an odd mish mash of returns for whole investment categories like Private Equity with its 100s of Billions of Dollars invested alongside the returns for single stamps from 1867 which gos for around $400.
Throw in a few Ferraris, REIT indices, some Bordeaux wine, Soybean Meal futures, and Hedge Funds; and it’s like Bloomberg vomited alternatives all over the page.
(Disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results)
Tables Courtesy: Bloomberg
Now we get it, looking at exotic property or ideas is a lot more fun to read about then say risk adjusted ratios (what real alternatives folk geek out over), but to compare investing in wine and fast cars to Private Equity and Hedge Funds seems a bit off the mark to us. For one, there is perhaps $1 Billion worth of capacity in some of the ‘exotic’ investments put up on the page, while some of the hedge funds listed manage many billions. It’s not quite fair to compare the return on a $400 stamp or $1,000 bottle of wine with the Trillions invested in the hedge fund and private equity space. One is attainable to a handful of people in the world, the other to millions. It’s sort of like comparing the Yankees win/loss record for the year with Phil “The Power” Taylor’s darts record.
Oh well… the tables are pretty and it’s fun to see how much some of those ‘exotics’ returned. Who knew? Self storage REITs were the place to be. We’ll take the ‘under’ on that happening over the next three years.
As for their line about alternative investment (now they’re talking the whole world of them…) underperforming the S&P – that is another case of apples and oranges, although not for the reasons outlined above, with both return streams available to the masses. Alternatives are oranges to stocks apples because “Hedge Funds Don’t Care if They’re Underperforming the S&P.”