Large-Cap Funds Overweight Toward Good Governance

January 12, 2004 ( - Large-cap mutual fund managers tend to overweight their portfolios with companies with above-average corporate governance profiles - a move that has paid dividends over the three- and five-year holding periods.

Research conducted by Lipper and GovernanceMetrics International (GMI) examined mutual fund holdings based on GMI’s 1 to 10 rating scale – 10 being a company’s board of directors that is truly independent.   While only 41% of GMI’s database received a rating of 7.5 or higher – denoting governance practices of “above average” or “well-above average” – 56% of the average Large-Cap Value fund, 55% of the average Large-Cap Core fund, and 48% of the average Large-Cap Growth fund retained these investments.

Breaking it down even further, the research assigned a weighted average score based on the funds’ corporate governance holdings.   Among the 10 highest scores in the large-cap value category, their three-year return was 0.84% and the five-year return was 2.37%.   Comparatively, those with the lowest weighted average governance scores had three-year returns of -0.35% and five-year returns of 3.33%.  

Similarly, the top 10 large-cap core funds had three- and five-year returns of -5.53% and 0.90%, respectively, versus -7.30% and -0.74% three- and five-year returns, respectively, of the bottom 10.    Among large-cap growth, the top 10 had three- and five-year returns of -5.74% and 0.57%, respectively, versus -10.88% and -1.00%, respectively, among the 10 lowest scorers.

On an individual basis, among large-cap funds with the strongest average governance ratings for portfolio stocks, the funds with the highest 3-year annualized returns were:

  • Sequoia
  • Northern Funds Large Cap Value
  • Hennessey Total Return
  • ING Corporate Leaders
  • TD Waterhouse Dow 30.

Conversely, among the large-cap funds with the poorest average governance ratings, the funds with the lowest 3-year annualized returns were:

  • ASAF ProFund Managed OTC
  • Van Kampen Select Growth
  • Jundt Twenty-Five
  • Gartmore Focus
  • Janus Mercury.

To arrive at these figures, the two firms paired the stock holdings of 725 large-cap domestic equity mutual funds portfolios in Lipper’s database with the governance ratings calculated by GMI for more than 1,000 publicly traded firms.   The full report will beposted at .