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Rating:Indices, Active Funds Ran Neck-and-Neck in First Quarter Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, April 13, 2006

Indices, Active Funds Ran Neck-and-Neck in First Quarter

by: Marie Glancy

Actively-managed value and large-cap funds may be the focus of a few marketing pushes over the coming weeks. Standard & Poor's released its quarterly Indices Versus Active (SPIVA) funds scorecard on Thursday, and the figures show that several categories of actively managed funds have turned in unusually strong performances.

A majority of funds in the following categories beat their relative S&P benchmark indices: large-, medium-, and small-cap value, small-cap blend, and all-cap value. The opposite was true for all categories of growth funds, and for large-cap blend funds. In the mid-cap blend category, meanwhile, exactly fifty percent of equity funds were outperformed by their relative index.

Rosanne Pane, Standard & Poor's mutual fund strategist, said the strength of international relative to U.S. markets in the first quarter proved a boon to actively managed large-caps, which invest in foreign companies. She added that actively managed funds also increased their returns by investing in lively sectors like real estate, communications, and energy.

On the whole, however, actively managed small-caps fared worse than their index, with the S&P 600 outperforming a hefty 64.2 percent.

Srikant Dash, an index strategist at Standard & Poor's, noted that the small-cap market is generally perceived as "inefficient" and well suited to active fund management, but said this latest scorecard -- along with a large number of recent small-cap fund closings -- should prompt a reevaluation of that wisdom.

Actively managed funds in high-performing categories have added reason to seize on their positive results since, over the past three years, the SPIVA scorecard has generally recorded poorer performances among actively managed funds across all caps. The S&P 500 has outperformed 61.9% of large-cap funds, the S&P MidCap 400 has bested 87.3% of mid-cap funds, and the S&P SmallCap 600 has done better than 78.7% of small-cap funds.

In its announcement of the SPIVA rankings, Standard & Poor's highlighted that its methodology corrects for survivorship bias. Recently Zero Alpha Group, a network of advisors using passive management strategies, released a report claiming that failure to do so can result in deceptively good results for actively managed funds. 

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