Paulson's biggest hedge funds post losses in first quarter

BOSTON (Reuters) - Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson is off to a mixed start to the year as his biggest portfolios posted losses during the first three months, two people familiar with the performance said.

Some of his other funds, however posted gains, the people, who are not permitted to speak about the hedge fund firm's performance publicly, said on Thursday.

The Advantage Fund, where the bulk of his firm's assets are invested, lost 1.24 percent during the first quarter, pulled down by a 3.10 percent loss in March.

His Advantage Plus Fund lost 1.74 percent during the first three months of 2011 after having dropped 4.4 percent in March. This fund had been especially hard-hit in early March when it was off 6.14 percent through March 15 as Japan's disaster hit financial markets and his bets on rising fortunes of U.S. bank stocks and the housing market soured.

A spokesman for Paulson declined to comment.

With $36 billion in assets, Paulson's New York-based Paulson & Co ranks as one of the world's largest hedge funds after growing by about $15 billion in successful subprime mortgage bets a few years ago.

Paulson's Gold fund, one of his newer offerings, was down a smidgen for the quarter when it was off 0.87 percent and off 0.43 percent for March.

But some of Paulson's offerings are doing quite well, the sources said, noting that the arbitrage-oriented Paulson Partners gained 3.86 percent during the quarter and that Paulson Enhanced gained 6.94 percent during the first three months. His Recovery fund is up 3.8 percent for the year and the Credit Opportunities Fund rose 6.44 percent during the first three months.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, editing by Dave Zimmerman)