The Bennelong Concentrated Equities fund and Macquarie Alpha Opportunities fund were the top-performing Australian share funds in 2015, returning 33.9 per cent each, blitzing the benchmark return of 2.13 per cent, according to the latest Mercer survey of major institutional fund managers released on Monday.
Who are the top Aussie equity stockpickers?
Mercer's latest survey results are out, so who were the top performing institutional managed funds and what were their returns in 2015?
Bennelong Concentrated Equities was the top ranking Australian equities long only fund, while Macquarie Alpha Opportunities was the top ranking Australian equities long-short fund.
Both funds took out the top spot in their category by a significant margin of more than 7 per cent.
Mercer research manager Clare Armstrong said the results showed that 2015, while a tough period for markets generally, had been a great year for high conviction stockpickers.
"We saw that several of the better performers had a significant investment in smaller companies which drove their returns. When names like Blackmores and Bellamy's are up 500 per cent or 700 per cent, even small positions can influence returns relative to portfolios that are more limited in their mandates," she said.
"Looking at the portfolio of the strongest performing fund, Bennelong Concentrated Equities, which rose 33.9 per cent for the year, almost half of its outperformance came from holdings that were outside the ASX100.
"This highlights the benefit of looking for managers that are less constrained in their investment strategy".
Bennelong Concentrated Equities also posted the strongest returns of any long only domestic share fund included in the survey over the past quarter, gaining 18.2 per cent in the three months ended December 31.
The strong performance of the past 12 months pushed Bennelong Concentrated Equities fund into the second position over the past three and five-year periods.
The second ranked local long only fund for the 2015 calendar year was the Smallco Broadcap fund, which delivered a gross return of 25.4 per cent.
Macquarie High Conviction ranked third with an annual return of 24.9 per cent, followed by Selector HIgh Conviction Equity Fund in fourth place with 21.4 per cent and Platypus Australian Equities in fifth spot, with 20.5 per cent.
Rounding out the top 10 was Hyperion Australian Growth at 18.8 per cent, Bennelong Core Equities at 15.4 per cent, Wavestone Wholesale Australian Share at 14.9 per cent, CBG Australian Equities at 14.4 per cent and Fidelity Australian Opportunities Fund at 14.2 per cent.
In the rankings for global equity managers in the local market, Baillie Gifford Long Term Global Growth was the top-performing fund delivering a 12-month return of 28.5 per cent.
The Mercer quarterly investment survey includes most of the major fund managers who offer products to local institutional investors. The survey is closely watched by industry insiders as a comparative measure of the stockpicking skills of individual fund managers and their teams.
All percentage returns quoted are based on investment performance before accounting for fees and other administrative costs.
For investors, net returns after fees, or what winds up in their pocket, are a more relevant measure.