Quebec's largest pension fund manager earned a 5.9-per-cent return during the first half of the year, but warns it will be harder to continue earning high returns in coming months.
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec said its net assets climbed to $240.8-billion as of June 30, up from $225.9-billion at the end of last year. The pension fund manager said $13.1-billion of the asset increase came from investment returns and $1.8-billion was due to new deposits from plan members.
Caisse CEO Michael Sabia said the fund's investment teams have "identified the right strategies and have deployed them rigorously," but said the Caisse has also benefited from bull markets fuelled by stimulative monetary policies.
However, he said economic conditions are changing and it will be increasingly difficult to continue earning over-sized rates of return.
"Continuing to do well will be even more challenging in the months and years to come," he said in a statement Friday. "Against a backdrop of high asset valuations and growing economic and geopolitical risks, we will need to be even more rigorous in choosing our investments. We will need to raise our game and to innovate to find the most attractive investment opportunities."
The fund has announced several major deals so far this year, saying they are part of a strategy to focus on growing globally with more investments outside of Quebec. So far this year, for example, the fund has taken a stake in European rail operator Eurostar, and invested in U.S. gas pipeline operator Southern Star Central Corp. as well as European engineering firm SPIE.
The Caisse said its four-year average annual rate of return was 10.2 per cent as of June 30, which allowed the fund to earn $75-billion in investment returns for members over the period.
The Caisse is Canada's second-largest pension fund manager after the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and manages assets for a variety of public sector pension and insurance plans in Quebec.
Over the first six months of 2015, the Caisse said it earned returns of 7.8 per cent on its equity portfolio, while fixed income securities such as bonds earned 2.7 per cent and inflation sensitive investments such as real estate and infrastructure earned 4.6 per cent.
The fund has almost half of its assets -- 46 per cent -- invested in equity holdings, while fixed income assets account for 37 per cent and inflation-sensitive holdings are 15 per cent of total assets.