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AIMCo CEO Evan Siddall in Edmonton, Alberta on Oct. 13, 2021.Amber Bracken/Amber Bracken

Alberta Investment Management Corp. reported a 4-per-cent loss in the quarter ended June 30, leading to a 6.8-per-cent loss totalling $9.8-billion in the first six months of 2022.

AIMCo is the latest Canadian pension plan to detail how roiling world markets so far this year have dented its portfolio. But for the pension plans, it could have been worse: Royal Bank of Canada’s RY-T RBC I&TS All Plan Universe saw defined benefit pension plan assets – as measured by a typical mix of publicly held stocks and bonds – shrink by 14.7 per cent through June 30.

AIMCo said its performance beat the performance of its benchmark – a portfolio of similar assets it uses to measure its performance – which showed a 5.3-per-cent loss for the quarter and a 7.9-per-cent loss for the six months.

“Often when the stock markets take a hit, there is shelter in the bond markets, but this was not the case the first half of this year,” AIMCo chief investment officer Sandra Lau said in an e-mailed statement. “As we go into the second half of 2022, we expect markets to remain volatile. Even though we have seen a significant pullback in both equity and bond valuations, it may still be too soon to position for a full rebound in risk assets without clear signs that inflation is easing.”

The manager closed the books June 30 with $136.6-billion in assets.

In the first six months of 2022, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, or OMERS, said it posted a loss of 0.4 per cent. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan reported a gain of 1.2 per cent and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec lost 7.9 per cent over that period.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board lost 4.2 per cent in the quarter that ended June 30.

The funds’ varying returns for the first half of 2022 were driven by differences in their portfolios.

The Caisse had 75 per cent of its assets in equities and fixed income at June 30. By contrast, OMERS had about half of its portfolio in public equities, bonds and credit investments at June 30. Ontario Teachers’ had a little less than half of its assets in equities and fixed income, with roughly 20 per cent of its portfolio in what it calls “inflation sensitive” assets, designed to perform better in inflationary environments.

AIMCo entered 2022 with 37 per cent of its portfolio in public equities – stocks traded on exchanges – and 35 per cent in fixed income, including bonds. The remainder, 28 per cent, was in illiquid investments such as infrastructure, real estate, renewable resources and private equity.

As of June 30, market losses helped that mix change to 31 per cent public equities, 33 per cent fixed income and 36 per cent illiquid investments.

AIMCo’s 10-year annualized rate of return through June 30 was 7.4 per cent.

The fund manager lost $2.1-billion on trading strategies linked to market volatility in the spring of 2020, when the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic rocked markets. AIMCo significantly underperformed peers and its benchmark that year by posting an overall 2.5-per-cent return.

AIMCo subsequently recruited a new team, starting with chair Mark Wiseman, former chief executive officer of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. After Mr. Wiseman arrived, AIMCo hired Evan Siddall, the former CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., as its new CEO.

AIMCo’s 14.7-per-cent return in 2021 ranked as the second-highest figure among the five plans that report returns on a calendar-year basis, behind OMERS’ 15.7 per cent.

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