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The $115 Billion Danish Fund That's Mapped Volatility Patterns

It’s a familiar pattern: each quarter sees a bout of anxiety, followed by a period of relative calm.

Once you’ve spotted the repetition, you can position your portfolio to avoid predictable losses and even make money on the highs and lows, according to Carsten Stendevad, the chief executive officer of ATP, Denmark’s biggest pension fund.

“We almost see the same movie replaying itself every quarter,” Stendevad said in a phone interview on Thursday. It’s a recurring “spike in volatility, then calm. We’ve positioned our portfolio so that we can withstand those bouts and sometimes even take advantage of them.”

Zigs and Zags

The first quarter of 2016 started with a selloff in global stocks that saw the Stoxx Europe 600 Index drop 5.3 percent over the first week. Eventually, stocks recovered most of their losses. The index then dropped 2.8 percent over the first...