US – The $126.1bn California State Teachers' Retirement System made a 13.1% return on its investments in 2004.

The Sacramento-based fund said: “Earning $13.5bn more than the previous year, the investment portfolio outdid its benchmarks in four of its five investment categories.”

"This second year of above average returns shows we are fully recovered from the recent market downturn," said chief investment officer Christopher Ailman.

"The savvy work by investment staff and managers added $1.8 billion to the portfolio over just copying our benchmarks' holdings. Our professionals made smart decisions using our diligent process and discipline to ensure our members' financial security."

It added that US equities, fixed income, real estate and alternative investments all beat their benchmarks.

Best performing was alternatives, which returned 22% against a 9.8% return in its custom benchmark. Alternatives account for 4.6% of its total portfolio.

The fund, the third largest in the US, said its 2004 performance “exceeded the 8% average annual return required to meet projected benefit obligations to the system's 755,000 members and beneficiaries”.

Its portfolio is now 43.7% US equities, 23.9% international equities, 22.5% fixed income and 4.4% real estate. , 4.6 percent in alternative investments and .9 percent in cash.

It named Carolyn Widener, an English professor at West Los Angeles College, as chair. Dana Dillon, a science teacher, becomes vice chair.

"California public pension systems are currently facing many challenges," said Widener. "However, I'm confident our board will continue to act decisively and constructively as we work together to achieve the best possible outcome for California's educators."

Last week California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger backed down on proposals to privatise the state’s pension funds.