By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Nishant Kumar
BOSTON/LONDON (Reuters) - Hedge funds will likely attract billions of dollars in new money in the next six months after posting solid returns in the first half even as Wall Street's sell-off, sparked by Greece's debt drama, took a bite out of some managers' June returns.
Hedge funds that bet mainly on stocks could take in as much as $14 billion (9 billion pounds) in fresh cash in the second half, roughly double what came in during the first five months of the year, according to forecasts from industry research firm eVestment.
"There are a lot of assets in play and what is driving these flows to hedge funds is a redistribution away from traditional exposures," said Peter Laurelli, eVestment's head of research.
Investors bracing for fresh turbulence fuelled by fears over Greece, a slowdown in China and forthcoming Federal Reserve interest rate hikes are scouting for funds with a more flexible trading style that can make money in all markets, something hedge funds have long promised, investors and analysts said.
Globally, hedge funds oversee about $3 trillion in assets.
Preliminary data from Hedge Fund Research show the average fund returning 1.27 percent in the first six months of 2015 compared with the Standard & Poor's 500 index flat return.
"These guys made money," said Troy Gayeski, senior portfolio manager at SkyBridge Capital which invests with hedge funds. "The best news is that the average hedge fund will have outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 index."
June's late month sell-off did hurt monthly returns at Barry Rosenstein's Jana Partners, which fell 1 percent, and Och-Ziff Capital Management's OZM Master Fund, which dipped 0.5 percent, while its OZ Europe Master fund fell 0.98 percent, investors told Reuters.
Similarly Daniel Loeb's Third Point, which has some exposure to Greece, dipped 0.8 percent last month while David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital, hurt by a sell-off in Micron Technology, ended the month down 4.3 percent.
"The last few days of June were tricky for funds across a series of strategies and many gave back some of the positive performance generated over the previous few weeks," said Michael Rosenthal, who invests with hedge funds at family office Signia.
But Jana, Third Point and Och Ziff are all in the black in the first half. And there are funds delivering even stronger returns than these prominent players.
Kingdon Capital climbed 13 percent, Maglan Capital gained 15 percent, Pentwater Capital is up roughly 12 percent and Polygon's European event driven fund gained 9.5 percent this year, investors in the funds said.
With investors forecasting more gains in hedge fund returns in the second half, flows are expected to be much stronger than they were a year ago in the second half of 2014, eVestment forecast.
"Hedge funds may not raise money hand over fist in the next months, but they are likely to compete with equity returns and should outperform bonds and cash, so people will be nibbling."
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Nishant Kumar; Editing by Linda Stern and Alan Crosby)