The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board fund earned a 3.4-per-cent return on its investments in its latest quarter.
CPPIB said its assets grew by $7.6-billion in the fiscal second quarter ended Sept. 30, with assets increasing to $234.4-billion from $226.8-billion in the previous quarter.
Growth consisted of $7.5-billion in net investment income and $0.1-billion from new contributions.
The modest return is in stark contrast to much higher returns posted last year, as growth in global markets slows.
"This is a very difficult investment environment for a long-term-based value investor like CPPIB," president and chief executive officer Mark Wiseman said in an interview Thursday.
"The amount of investment activity we've had has been somewhat muted," he said.
Investment opportunities in both the private and public markets are more difficult to find, he added.
"What sets us apart is the luxury to take our time: patience and prudence."
"During the quarter, our investment portfolio reflected mixed performance from the global public equity markets, balanced by solid returns from our fixed income assets and positive contributions from our private investments," Mr. Wiseman said in a news release.
"We continue to realize the benefits of a globally diversified, resilient portfolio that is designed to deliver superior returns over the long term."
There are still long-term opportunities in such key growth markets as China, Brazil and India, Mr. Wiseman said in the interview.
After inflation, CPPIB has a five-year rate of return of 8.2 per cent and a 10-year return rate of 5.6 per cent, above the assumptions of the Chief Actuary of Canada.
"I'm very happy with the [Q2] results. I'm more happy with the long-term 10-year results," Mr. Wiseman said.
For the period ended Sept. 30, the fund's asset mix consisted of 33 per cent in public equities, 18.3 per cent in private equity, 32.5 per cent in fixed income, 10.8 per cent in real estate and 5.4 per cent in infrastructure.
As of Dec. 31, 2012, the plan remains sustainable at the current contribution rate of 9.9 per cent over a 75-year period, according to the most recent actuary's report, released almost a year ago.