Best Hedge Funds: Jim Simons Medallion Fund’s Returns and Alpha

Jim Simons’ Medallion Fund is the best hedge fund that Insider Monkey has come across. The fund’s returns are so spectacular that Jim Simons became one of the richest people on the planet. Medallion Fund employs high frequency trading and exploits inefficiencies in the stock market. One strategy they use takes advantage of the inefficiencies in the execution of large transactions. One of their algorithms determines whether a very large order is executed and front runs it. As a result Medallion experiences high transaction costs and high expenses. That’s why they charge a 5% fixed fee. On top of that they charge performance fee. That fee had been 20%, but after 2000 it increased initially to 36% and then to 44%.

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Currently the fund’s investors are current and past employees and their families. So, the fund’s 44% performance fee is a little bit irrelevant. Jim Simons owns between 25-50 percent of Renaissance Technologies (RenTec), and he is also the largest investor in the Medallion Fund. So when Medallion reports a 50% return in a given year, the return is really close to 100% for most of the fund’s investors. Nevertheless, we’ll use their “net returns” to analyze Medallion’s alpha.

We obtained Medallion’s annual returns from several sources and when they weren’t available we estimated them using their cumulative returns. The main source is Rachel and William Ziemba’s Scenarios for Risk Management and Global Investment Strategies. Medallion’s annual returns since March 1988 are shown in the table.

Insider Monkey, your source for free insider trading data, used monthly net returns from January 1993 to April 2005 to calculate Medallion’s alpha. Our results indicate that Medallion’s returns weren’t correlated with the market, small caps, value stocks, or momentum stocks. Jim Simons’ Medallion Fund had a monthly alpha of 2.49% and an annual alpha of 34%. We have never seen a hedge fund achieve such a high alpha, so the Medallion Fund is the best hedge fund we have seen so far. Jim Simons’ alpha is even better than was Warren Buffett’s when he was much younger (see Warren Buffett‘s latest stock picks). If Jim Simons started investing 20 years earlier than he did, he would have been the richest man on this planet.

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