Hedge Fund Strategy - Equity Long-Short
An equity long-short strategy is an investing strategy, used primarily by hedge funds, that involves taking long positions in stocks that are expected to increase in value and short positions in stocks that are expected to decrease in value. You may know that taking a long position in a stock simply means buying it: If the stock increases in value, you will make money. On the other hand, taking a short position in a stock means borrowing a stock you don’t own (usually from your broker), selling it, then hoping it declines in value, at which time you can buy it back at a lower price than you paid for it and return the borrowed shares. Hedge funds using equity long-short strategies simply do this on a grander scale. At its most basic level, an equity long-short strategy consists of buying an undervalued stock and shorting an overvalued stock. Ideally, the long position will increase in value, and the short position will decline in value. If this happens, and the positions are of equal size, the hedge fund will benefit. That said, the strategy will work even if the long position declines in value, provided that the long position outperforms the short position. Thus, the goal of any equity long-short strategy is to minimize exposure to the market in general, and profit from a change in the difference, or spread, between two stocks. That may sound complicated, so let’s look at a hypothetical example. Let’s say a hedge fund takes a $1 million long position in Pfizer and a $1 million short position in Wyeth, both large pharmaceutical companies. With these positions, any event that causes all pharmaceutical stocks to fall will lead to a loss on the Pfizer position and a profit on the Wyeth position. Similarly, an event that causes both stocks to rise will have little effect, since the positions balance each other out. So, the market risk is minimal. Why, then, would a portfolio manager take such a position? Because he or she...
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