According to a news release, the Universe’s median total fund also beat the 20.87% annual return of its benchmark (Russell 3000 Index 50%, LB Aggregate 40%, MSCI World ex-US 10%). Approximately 64% of the plans outperformed the benchmark for 2003. The US Master Trust Universe represents a market value of $1.4 trillion with an average plan size of $2.7 billion.
“Strong performance in the overseas markets helped fund sponsors achieve a strong recovery in 2003,” said Tim Clark, Russell/Mellon senior client relationship manager. “Public plans had the highest returns of all plan types for the year and quarter.”
All but one asset class beat their respective benchmark last year, according to the announcement. Leading the way, the median plan in the non-US Equity asset class showed a 37.85% gain and still bested the MSCI World ex-US Index (40.01%).
Next, the US Equities, which returned 32.02%, outperformed the Russell 3000 Index (31.06%). Fixed Income brought up the rear with non-US Fixed Income (23.37%) outperforming the Citigroup World Government Bond Index non-US (18.52%) and US Fixed Income returned 5.61%, beating the LB Aggregate return of 4.10%. In the final quarter of 2003, the 8.73% median return of the US Master Trust Universe beat the benchmark of 8.05%. Approximately 66% of the plans outperformed the benchmark during the fourth quarter.
Non-US Equity drove fourth quarter performance with a 15.91% return but lagged the MSCI World ex-US Index’s 17.04% return. The median plan in the US Equity asset class followed with a 12.62% performance compared to the Russell 3000 Index’s 12.43%. Non-US Fixed Income (6.46%) underperformed the Citigroup World Government Bond Index non-US (6.71%) and US Fixed Income returned 0.74%, which beat the LB Aggregate return of 0.32%.
The average asset allocation in the US Master Trust Universe for the fourth quarter changed slightly mainly because of increases in overall plan performance. The average now is US Equity 42%, US Fixed Income 24%, non-US Equity 19%, non-US Fixed Income 2%, Alternative Investments 5%, Real Estate 3%, Cash 2%, and Other (Private Equity, Oil, Gas, etc.) 3%.