IRELAND - Irish group managed pension funds delivered the first positive return in seven months and produced a yield of 2.4% in March, Rubicon Investment Consulting has revealed.

Latest figures from its monthly group managed funds survey showed while the average return for the 10 funds was 2.4%, even the worst performing fund - AIB Investment Managers - still produced a return of 1%.

In the first positive monthly return since August 2008, Merrion Investment Managers contributed the best performance with a return of 3.6%, closely followed by Irish Life Investment Managers, which returned 3.5%.

At the other end of the scale, AIB was the worst performer although Aviva Investors was close behind with a return of 1.9%, while the remaining six funds produced returns ranging between 2% and 2.7%.

Despite the positive results, Rubicon warned "it is too early to know if this signals the bottom of the market", as the figures showed the average return for the first quarter of 2009 is still a poor -5.2%, with the best performer Merrion Investment Managers reporting a return of -3%, and AIB remained at the bottom with a yield of -7.3%.

The average return has remained at -30.2% over the last year, and even over longer periods the average yields remain negative with a 10-year return of -0.9%, which Rubicon highlighted is "well below the Irish inflation rate of 3.4% per year over the same time horizon".

Elsewhere, the March figures released by Hewitt Associates from its Hewitt Managed Fund Survey and index showed more than 20 funds generated an average positive return of 2.6% on investments, although its figures reflected a similar story to Rubicon as the first quarter figures for the Index remained a negative 5.3%.

Betty O'Reilly, senior investment consultant at Hewitt Associates, said: "The positive returns for the past month can be attributed to the rally of global equity markets in the second half of the month. After seven consecutive months of market deterioration, the positive performance for March is long overdue.

"Although it is too early to tell whether the current rally will continue, one would hope that we will not return to the record lows seen by the equity markets in recent times," she continued.

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