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These Long-Short Funds Have Recently Fallen Short

During the most recent market downturn, a handful of offerings did not stand their ground.

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The past few weeks have been marked by a market downturn, a time when funds with the ability to short stocks--or bet against them--should have shone brightly relative to pure equity funds.

Long-short funds, which fall under the alternative funds umbrella, typically hold a combination of both long and short positions. Their managers will shift their net long and short exposure--based on bottom-up research or their macroeconomic outlooks--to generate returns that are not tied to the market's fortunes. In bull markets, long-short funds might lag their long-only counterparts. But during bear markets, these funds' abilities to bet against stocks gives them competitive advantages. In the past month, for example, the broad U.S. Market (as measured by the S&P 500) posted losses of 8.3%. Even though long-short equity funds didn't escape unscathed, their losses were relatively light at 3.9%.

But some funds in the category posted more disappointing losses during the last month's downturn than others. With an eye toward unearthing long-short funds with relatively weak recent returns, we turned to the  Premium Fund Screener to sift through the long-short equity category for funds that have recently performed worse than one might have expected, with losses of more than 5% during the past four weeks. To further streamline our results, we called up funds with analyst research available and eliminated all but the distinct portfolio of each fund. Below, we highlight two of the biggest losers (as of Aug. 16, 2011) that our screener yielded. Premium members can run the screen by  clicking here.

Esther Pak does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.