Alberta Investment Management Corp., Edmonton, returned 7.9% gross of fees, or $5.2 billion, in its fiscal year ended March 31.
AIMCo, which manages about C$69.7 billion (US$67.3 billion) in assets, returned 7.4% net of fees for the 12-month period, topping its 5.9% custom benchmark.
Of the overall assets, the C$54.7 billion in the balanced fund, which comprises 14 Alberta pension funds and endowments, returned a net 8.2% for the fiscal year, while government funds returned 4.2%.
For the year ended March 31, real estate was the top performer, returning 22.8%. Long bonds returned 17.4%; real return bonds, 16.3%; private equity, 13.1%; mortgage assets, 10.9%; Canadian bonds, 8.9%; infrastructure, 5.6%; global equity, 2.4%; and cash, 0.3%.
In the last year, AIMCo has “drifted” to more “unusual assets” over worries in the bond market and slow growth in the stock markets, said Leo de Bever, CEO.
“It's all about how we try to invest in places that don't quite fit in the boxes” such as in between private equity and real estate, Mr. de Bever said in a telephone interview. “The drift is to more alternatives or assets that are unusual.”
Mr. de Bever credits the internal investment capabilities of his staff for keeping costs low and AIMCo's returns above those of most U.S. pension funds. AIMCo has only 15% of its assets externally managed, which makes up 60% of costs, he said.
“The cost differential is enormous,” Mr. de Bever said. “With more internal expertise, you can pursue things that would be too expensive like private equity, real estate or timberland.”