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Alternative Fund Updates: Calamos Market Neutral Income Fund, Calamos Hedged Equity Fund

Eli Pars, CFA

  • During the quarter, we increased CMNIX’s allocation to convertible arbitrage.
  • We see an attractive opportunity set for convertible arbitrage continuing, supported by rising overnight interest rates and increased convertible issuance.
  • CIHEX and the hedged equity sleeve of CMNIX have benefited from a relatively tight trading range in the S&P 500 Index and higher interest rates.

Calamos Market Neutral Income Fund (CMNIX) is designed to enhance a traditional fixed income allocation. The fund combines two complementary strategies—arbitrage and hedged equity—to pursue absolute returns and income that is not dependent on interest rates. During the first quarter, both the arbitrage and hedged equity strategies gained ground.

We actively manage allocations to the strategies based on our view of market conditions and relative opportunities. The fund’s current allocation to the arbitrage strategy is 55%, with 45% in the hedged equity strategy. At the start of the year, the fund’s allocation to the arbitrage strategy was 51%, with 49% allocated to the hedged equity strategy.

Within the arbitrage strategy, we have the flexibility to utilize different strategies, including convertible arbitrage, merger arbitrage and special purpose acquisition company arbitrage. We continue to like the opportunity in convertible arbitrage most, and the fund’s allocation to convertible arbitrage grew from 39% at the start of the quarter to 45% at quarter end. We expect to continue adding to convertible arbitrage, particularly if we see the attractive new convertible issuance that we anticipate.

A principal driver for growing convertible arbitrage is our heightened return expectations for the strategy on the back of the rise in overnight interest rates. Convertible arbitrage returns have historically been correlated with overnight rates. This is partly because of the direct linkage of the rebate the fund receives on its short stock positions, which is directly tied to the fed funds rate. Although returns don’t necessarily go up tick-for-tick with rates, we expect a meaningful tailwind in 2023 and beyond.

The relatively tight trading range of the S&P 500 Index during the quarter also benefited the hedged equity side of the fund. Elevated call volatility has allowed us to generate more income from the options strategy while still having a significant degree of downside risk mitigation. Higher interest rates also have flowed through to the hedged equity strategy in the form of higher call prices and lower put prices, making our collar strategy more attractive.

Calamos Hedged Equity Fund (CIHEX) is an equity alternative designed to help investors dampen the impact of equity market volatility and drawdowns. As discussed above, the S&P 500’s relatively tight trading range proved advantageous for CIHEX, with elevated call volatility allowing us to generate more income from the options strategy without sacrificing significant downside risk mitigation. We have been taking advantage of this bid on call volatility while still maintaining a lighter than usual use of call writing. We also continue to layer in put spreads over and above our typical minimum level of notional long puts. Finally, as noted above, higher call prices and lower put prices have made our collar strategy more attractive.

Before investing carefully consider the fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. Please see the prospectus and summary prospectus containing this and other information which can be obtained by calling 1-866-363-9219. Read it carefully before investing.

Diversification and asset allocation do not guarantee a profit or protect against a loss. Alternative strategies entail added risks and may not be appropriate for all investors. Indexes are unmanaged, not available for direct investment and do not include fees and expenses.

Opinions, estimates, forecasts, and statements of financial market trends that are based on current market conditions constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice. The views and strategies described may not be appropriate for all investors. References to specific securities, asset classes and financial markets are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as, recommendations.

Important Risk Information. An investment in the Fund(s) is subject to risks, and you could lose money on your investment in the Fund(s). There can be no assurance that the Fund(s) will achieve its investment objective. Your investment in the Fund(s) is not a deposit in a bank and is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other government agency. The risks associated with an investment in the Fund(s) can increase during times of significant market volatility. The Fund(s) also has specific principal risks, which are described below. More detailed information regarding these risks can be found in the Fund’s prospectus.

The principal risks of investing in the Calamos Market Neutral Income Fund include: equity securities risk consisting of market prices declining in general, convertible securities risk consisting of the potential for a decline in value during periods of rising interest rates and the risk of the borrower to miss payments, synthetic convertible instruments risk, convertible hedging risk, covered call writing risk, options risk, short sale risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, high yield risk, liquidity risk, portfolio selection risk, and portfolio turnover risk.

Foreign security risk. As a result of political or economic instability in foreign countries, there can be special risks associated with investing in foreign securities, including fluctuations in currency exchange rates, increased price volatility and difficulty obtaining information. In addition, emerging markets may present additional risk due to potential for greater economic and political instability in less developed countries.

The principal risks of investing the Calamos Hedged Equity Fund include: covered call writing risk, options risk (see definition below), equity securities risk, correlation risk, mid-sized company risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, liquidity risk, portfolio turnover risk, portfolio selection risk, foreign securities risk, American depository receipts, and REITs risks.

Options Risk—the Fund’s ability to close out its position as a purchaser or seller of an over-the-counter or exchange-listed put or call option is dependent, in part, upon the liquidity of the options market. There are significant differences between the securities and options markets that could result in an imperfect correlation among these markets, causing a given transaction not to achieve its objectives. The Fund’s ability to utilize options successfully will depend on the ability of the Fund’s investment advisor to predict pertinent market movements, which cannot be assured.