The median endowment return for the first quarter - 5.25% - outpaced foundations, corporate and public pension plans, Taft-Hartley plans and health-care funds, according to Mellon Financial Corp.'s Analytical Solutions unit. Public pension plans ranked second, with a median first-quarter return of 4.98%, followed by foundations, with 4.76%; corporate plans, 4.53%; Taft-Harley plans, 3.96%; and health-care funds, 3.61%.
"Plans more heavily allocated to international equities tended to do pretty well," said Steve Cole, universe product manager at Mellon Analytical Solutions. "And you can extrapolate that out to U.S. equities. Plans that tended to be overweight in that class did reasonably well. Plans more allocated to fixed income - both U.S. and international - had a tendency not to do so well."
Endowments were also helped by higher allocations to alternative investments, he added.
Overall, the median first-quarter return for the universe of 502 funds was 4.66%, well above the universe benchmark return of 3.31%. The benchmark is made up of 50% of the Russell 3000 index, 40% the Lehman Brothers Aggregate index and 10% of the MSCI World ex-U.S. index.
The average asset allocation in the universe for the first quarter was 42% U.S. equity, 23% U.S. fixed income, 20% non-U.S. equity, 5% alternative investments, 2% real estate, 1% non-U.S. fixed income, 1% cash and 6% other, which includes private equity, oil and gas.
The universe represents a market value of $1.4 trillion, with an average fund size of $2.9 billion.