Saturday, November 10, 2018

Private Equity and Venture Capital Indices

I commented that I didn't have a good proxy for private equity and venture capital. So, I went and found one and came up with these indices from DSC Quantitative Group. What they do is regress a quarterly indices of private equity buyout and venture capital funds from Thomson Reuters on various sector indices of listed stocks. They update these weights each time Thomson Reuters produce a new number. Because they are using listed stock indices as proxies they can then produce a daily index for private equity. The fit of the proxy to the underlying index is not too bad. This is for venture capital:

 The biggest deviation is during the financial crisis - unlisted private equity fell by more than the proxy index had predicted. When we compare the proxy to the NASDAQ total return index, it looks superficially like a leveraged version of the index:

When I regress it on monthly NASDAQ total return index data for 2008 to 2018, I get a beta of 1.15 and annual alpha of 6%. This suggests that venture capitalists add value by rotating the sectors that they invest in over time and it's not just about leverage:

Alpha is given by the intercept of 0.4% per month. I didn't do the proper CAPM regression where you are supposed to deduct risk free returns from the two returns series first. Given the volatility here and low risk free rates since 2008, I doubt it would make much difference.

Interestingly, the Cambridge VC index estimates much lower returns, close to the returns of the NASDAQ index itself.

You could do all this analysis for the buyout private equity index too. You'd want to regress that on the S&P 500 total return index instead.

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