Both Australian and global funds managers comfortably outperformed their benchmarks last year, as style had little impact on overall returns through the recovery.

According to the Mercer Sector Survey for the periods to December 31, the median Australian long-only equities manager returned 39.5 per cent for the year, against the S&P/ASX 300’s 37.6 per cent, while the median global manager returned 2.6 per cent against the MSCI’s minus 0.3 per cent.

Australian managers which were overweight small caps and underweight listed property performed best as did global managers which had a tilt towards emerging markets. But differences between value and growth styles mattered little in Australia and not much more internationally. Emerging markets were up 38 per cent in A$ over 2009.

The top five global managers, however, were all value oriented in style. They were Franklin (up 25.2 per cent), Perennial High Alpha (up 20.1 per cent), EQT Intrinsic Value (15.8 per cent) Schroder QEP Value (15.5 per cent) and Orbis (14.2 per cent). The bottom five funds were SSgA Alpha Edge (minus 12.8 per cent), Acadian Beta (minus 12.4 per cent), Goldman Sachs Flex (minus 7.2 per cent), Marvin & Palmer  (minus 7.0 per cent) and Legg Mason (minus 6.7 per cent).

US-based Johnston Asset Management debuted in the Mercer survey with a quarterly return of 4.4 per cent, against the index return of 2.1 per cent. Johnston recently appointed an Australian representative – Catallyst Advisors, run by former Intech Investment Consulting director John Schaffer.

For Australian equities, the best performers among both long-only and long-short managers for the 12 months were: Perpetual Ethical (70.4 per cent), Tribeca Alpha Plus (60.1 per cent), UBS Halo (59.6 per cent), Hyperion Growth (59.5 per cent) and Independent (59.3 per cent).

The worst performers for Australian shares were: GMO long/short (19.6 per cent), MIR (22.3 per cent), Lazard Select (24.2 per cent), Acadian long/short (24.4 per cent) and Goldman Sachs Flex (27.8 per cent).


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