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PIMCO Income and Total Return passing ships

As two of the most widely held bond funds by defined contribution participants, PIMCO's Total Return and Income funds have seen their AUM numbers trade places among the manager's largest funds. At the end of 2018, the PIMCO Total Return fund held about $135 billion in total assets under management across all vehicles, with $65 billion in mutual fund offerings. The Income Fund managed $195.8 billion in net assets, $108 billion of which was in its mutual fund vehicles. By comparison, five years earlier, net assets for the Total Return and Income funds were $425 billion and $34 billion, respectively. Much of the Total Return Fund's decline in assets was driven by issues surrounding its former manager Bill Gross and his departure from the firm in 2014.

2018 was the first year the Total Return Fund failed to outperform the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond index. Despite the slight underperformance, the fund remained in the top quartile, and nearly the top decile, over the trailing three years ended Dec. 31. Over the five-year period, the fund ranked 28th among its peers, according to data from eVestment.

The more aggressive Income Fund has a broader, multisector mandate that invests in more asset-backed securities and below-investment-grade bonds. These allocations have helped the fund outpace standard core fixed-income funds but remain in the top decile among its peers.