The median plan in the BNY Mellon U.S. Master Trust Universe returned 3.3% in the fourth quarter, its third straight quarter of positive returns, and posted a gain of 19.5% for 2009, according to a BNY Mellon news release.
In 2008, the universe returned -25.2%.
Endowments had the best quarterly returns at 3.7%, followed by foundations, 3.6%; public plans, 3.43%; corporate plans, 3.26%; Taft-Hartley plans, 2.72%; and health-care plans, 2.44%.
U.S. equity performance led the quarter with a median return of 5.87%, just three basis points below the Russell 3000 index return of 5.9%. Non-U.S. equities returned a median 3.43%, underperforming the MSCI All-Country World ex-U.S. index return of 4.13%. U.S. fixed income returned a median 0.92%, compared to the Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond index return of 0.2%. And non-U.S. fixed income returned a median 1.15%, beating the Citigroup Non-U.S. World Government Bond index, which returned -2.15%.
The gains among foundations and endowments were largely because of a rebound in alternative strategies, Greg Stewart, managing director and regional product manager of BNY Mellon Asset Servicing, said in a telephone interview.
“(Foundations and endowments) were hurt earlier this year as those strategies lacked those traditional asset classes (in equities),” Mr. Stewart said.
Mr. Stewart said he has not seen funds making major changes in strategic asset allocation, but he expects them to conduct more asset allocation reviews as the market begins to stabilize.
“A lot of the changes in the asset allocations have been driven by market performance rather than conscious decisions by investors to move in and out of asset classes,” he said.
The average asset allocation for the quarter was 34% U.S. equity, 26% U.S. fixed income, 17% non-U.S. equity, 9% each alternative investments and other strategies, 2% each non-U.S. fixed income and real estate, and 1% cash.
The universe of 699 funds ended the quarter with a combined market value of $1.16 trillion.