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Caisse posts 13.6% return

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec posted a robust 13.6-percent return on its investments last year, solidifying its ongoing recovery from a disastrous 2008 loss.

The results for 2010 beat the 11.25-percent median return of large pension funds in 2010 as estimated by RBC Dexia Investor Services Ltd.

The Caisse—Canada's largest public pension fund—said it outperformed its own benchmark index by 4.1 percent for the year ended Dec. 31, 2010.

At the end of 2010, the Caisse's net assets stood at $151.7 billion, up from $131 billion in the previous year.

The increase was due to net investment results of $17.7 billion plus $2.4 billion in net deposits.

The Caisse is now almost back to pre-2008 levels. It posted a staggering 25-percent loss—$40 billion—on its investments in 2008.

Last year, the Caisse had a 10-percent return, below the 15.48-percent median return of its peers.

“In a year marked by turbulence, Europe's sovereign debt crisis and fears of a slowdown in the U.S., the Caisse generated strong results on many fronts,” Caisse chief Michael Sabia said in a news release Thursday.

“Our teams successfully repositioned the Caisse to focus on its core business and select quality holdings, while managing the portfolios prudently to take advantage of hard-to-predict market conditions.”

Real estate, infrastructure and bonds –one of three major asset classes at the Caisse—turned in a 16.3-percent return in 2010, while equities delivered a 14.6-percent return.

Private equity performed particularly well, with a 26.7-percent return.

Infrastructure alone posted a 25.4-percent return.

But Canadian equities underperformed. The Canadian equity portfolio generated a 15.7-percent return, 1.9 percent below its benchmark. The results were largely due to the portfolio's being overweight in large-cap companies and the dramatic outperformance of small-caps in 2010, the Caisse said.

"The Caisse is back in good health. We have rejoined the race. But the race is a marathon. The race is not a sprint," President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Sabia said at a news conference after the results were unveiled.

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