The real estate porfolio of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) failed to hit its benchmark during the past 12 months, while infrastructure investments outperformed.
Overall, the $302bn pension fund barely generated a positive return for the 2015-16 fiscal year, posting 0.61% – its lowest since the global financial crisis.
CalPERS said its real estate investments delivered a 7.06% net return, underperformed its benchmark – the NCREIF-ODCE index – by 557bps. Infrastructure, meanwhile, returned 8.98%, 402bps above the benchmark – the consumer price index plus 400bps.
The real estate underperformance was attributed to the sale of non-core assets, including stakes in funds, as CalPERS moves to a more core-focused strategy. Last year, CalPERS sold $3bn in non-core fund investments to Strategic Partners.
CalPERS plans to disclose its core real estate returns by September, which are expected to show better performance.
The overall poor performance was attributed to its stock market investments.
“Over half of our portfolio is in equities, so returns are largely driven by stock markets,” said CIO Ted Eliopoulos.
“But more than anything, the returns show the value of diversification and the importance of sticking to your long-term investment plan, despite outside circumstances.”
CalPERS declined to comment when asked whether the UK’s decision to leave the European Union would affect its real estate strategy in Europe.