Hedge funds had their best year last year since 1999, according to the Hennessee Group. The Hennessee Hedge Fund Index gained 24.6% in 2009. Equity indices also gained in 2009, with the S&P 500 up 24.7%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 18.8%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gaining 43.9%. In 1999, the Hennessee Hedge Fund Index was up 30.78%.

"Hedge funds competed very well with the stock market, with a lot less risk. Whenever you can achieve market returns with a third less risk, that is professional money management, as opposed to the traditional money managers who are long-only and who achieve market returns with 100% net exposure," said Charles Gradante, managing principal of the Hennessee Group.

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