CPP investment arm has best year since 2004
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the country’s largest pension manager, returned 17 percent in fiscal 2014, its best performance since 2004 as private-equity returns surged.
Assets rose 20 per cent to a record $219.1 billion from the same period last year and generated a record $30.1 billion in investment income for the year ended March 31, the Toronto-based fund manager said in a statement Friday. Private equities returned 30 per cent in Canada, 35 per cent in foreign developed markets and 37 per cent in emerging markets.
Canada Pension Chief Executive Officer Mark Wiseman said the gains were made even with “fairly priced” assets and challenges completing transactions in places such as India and China.
“My view is that in at least my career as an investor, this is probably the toughest market today to operate in as a value investor,” he told reporters.
The board’s 17 per cent return beat the 15 per cent median of Canadian pension funds in the 12 months ended March 31, according to RBC Investor Services.
The fund’s equity holdings in foreign developed markets grew 18 per cent to $75.6 billion from a year ago, and made up 35 per cent of its equity portfolio at the end of March. Its stake in Canadian equities rose 22 per cent to $18.6 billion compared with a year ago, for 8.5 per cent of its equity portfolio.
Emerging markets fell to 5.7 per cent of its equity portfolio at the end of March from 6.7 per cent a year ago.
Bonds made up 25 per cent of the board’s fixed-income portfolio, down from 29 per cent a year ago. Other debt rose to 5.2 per cent from 4.7 per cent while money market securities increased to 8 per cent from 4.8 per cent a year ago.
The fund, which manages the retirement savings of 18 million people in every province except Quebec, said it aims to continue to grow in foreign markets with 69 per cent of the fund invested internationally at the end of March, compared with 63 per cent last year.
“When you look around the world, you don’t see that assets are grossly overpriced, and you don’t see assets that are grossly underpriced,” Wiseman said.
This has forced Canada Pension to be “patient” and “pick its spots” in niche markets where the fund can leverage its long-term investment strategy to find value, like it did with the acquisition of Brazil’s Aliansce Shopping Centers SA, Wiseman said.