A new study from Rice University found that hedge funds that conduct frequent research post better average returns compared to those who do not, according to a recent article in CNBC.com.
Specifically, researchers found that hedge funds accessing one or more SEC filings in a month exhibited 1.5 percent higher returns in the subsequent month and that “above-median users generate 2 percent higher returns per year.” The firms Renaissance Technologies and BlackRock, the article reports, were among the top users of the filings.
The researchers were surprised by the findings, stating, “SEC filings are the very definition of ‘public’ information, and therefore, usage of such information should not be profitable,” adding, “Overall, our results are less consistent with the view that hedge funds have a processing advantage and more consistent with the view that public information complements private signals.”
Whether the additional research is helping funds on a macro level, however, remains in question, as many hedge funds are struggling to achieve the level of returns they had been able to earn in the past. The article explains that the study focused only on the SEC website and the government’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval System (EDGAR) database—pointing out that funds could also be using other channels to access data. That said, however, the researchers argue that EDGAR is “likely a better option for funds that employ robotic or automated programming.”
While “it’s tempting to conclude that sophisticated hedge fund managers are simply more skilled at processing swaths of information and data,” the article concludes, “their advantage may be more in their ability to match private data with public disclosures and SEC filings.”