California Pension Sees 8.9% Return in First 7 Months

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension, said its assets returned 8.9 percent in the first seven months of the fiscal year as stock holdings surged.

The fund known as Calpers, with a market value of $282.9 billion as of March 14, said publicly traded equity investments rose 12.7 percent through Jan. 31, according to a performance update posted yesterday on its website. Bonds rose 3.1 percent. Private equity returns, which lag behind other results by three months, rose 9.8 percent.

Calpers needs to average at least 7.5 percent a year to match its assumed rate of return. The rate is used to calculate how much the plan will need to cover benefits promised to members, and what local governments and the state must contribute to make up any difference.

Calpers’s assets tumbled during the global recession by more than a third, from a high of $260.6 billion in October 2007 to $164.7 billion in January 2009. The fund recovered in May under Chief Investment Officer Joe Dear.

Dear died last month at 62 of prostate cancer. Senior Investment Officer Theodore Eliopoulos is serving as acting chief investment officer while Calpers searches for a successor.

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