Alternative Investing

Building a Better Equity Market Neutral Strategy

Topics - Alternative Investing Market Neutral Hedge Funds Portfolio Construction

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Building a Better Equity Market Neutral Strategy

AQR White Paper

Equity Market Neutral (EMN) is a well-established strategy designed to seek positive performance without exposing investors to the risk of the overall equity market. By definition, returns of EMN funds should be uncorrelated to traditional equity returns. EMN strategies are designed to make money when long positions outperform short positions, regardless of overall market direction. Thus, their returns are often considered pure alpha, and may be expected to improve a portfolio’s expected returns, reduce its volatility, or both.

EMN works by taking long positions in stocks that are expected to outperform their peers and short positions in stocks expected to underperform. The positions are chosen so that the equity market exposure of the long side of the portfolio is offset by the exposure of the short side. This results in a strategy that is hedged to the aggregate stock market, thereby insulating investors from the major ups and downs in equities.

Institutional investors have long embraced alternative strategies such as EMN, whose long-term efficacy and diversification benefits have added significant value. With the emergence of liquid alternatives, a wider range of investors will be able to access these valuable tools so as to potentially improve the diversification and returns of their portfolios.

Published In

Alternative Investment Analyst Review

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The information contained herein is only as current as of the date indicated, and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AQR Capital Management, LLC, its affiliates or its employees. This information is not intended to, and does not relate specifically to any investment strategy or product that AQR offers. It is being provided merely to provide a framework to assist in the implementation of an investor’s own analysis and an investor’s own view on the topic discussed herein. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.


Hypothetical performance results have many inherent limitations, some of which, but not all, are described herein. The hypothetical performance shown was derived from the retroactive application of a model developed with the benefit of hindsight.  Hypothetical performance results are presented for illustrative purposes only.


Diversification does not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment loss.


Certain publications may have been written prior to the author being an employee of AQR.

This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney or tax advisor.


AQR Capital Management is a global investment management firm, which may or may not apply similar investment techniques or methods of analysis as described herein. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of AQR.