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S&P Reveals The Brutal Truth About 18 Categories Of Mutual Funds

trader thumbs down disappointed, rejects
trader thumbs down disappointed, rejects

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Odds are you're likely to be make more in the stock market by tracking an index than by trying to beat that index.

S&P Dow Jones Indices just published its mid-year scorecard of S&P indices versus active funds (SPIVA). Active funds are the funds that attempt to offer some sort of superior return relative to some benchmark.

"According to the data, 59.78% of large-cap managers, 57.84% of mid-cap managers and 72.79% of small-cap managers underperformed their benchmarks," said Aye Soe, director of index research and design. This is for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2014.

Fund managers have a knack for getting lucky over short-term periods. When you extend the performance period from 12-months to 5 years, the results are much uglier.

"The past five years have been marked by the rare combination of a remarkable rebound in domestic equity markets and a low-volatility equity environment," Soe added. "This combination has proven to be difficult for domestic equity managers, as over 70% of them across all capitalization and style categories failed to deliver returns higher than their respective benchmarks."

Below is a table from S&P showing 18 categories of funds. For some categories, more than half of the funds seem to be able to pull-off better returns over short periods.

But as you can see in the red box, there's no category in which more than 30% of the funds have beaten the index over a five year period.

"There is nothing novel about the index versus active debate," said Soe. "It has been a contentious subject for decades, and there are a few strong believers on both sides, with the vast majority of investors falling somewhere in between."

SPIVA Mid-Year 2014 Scorecard
SPIVA Mid-Year 2014 Scorecard

S&P Dow Jones Indices



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