Denmark’s Sampension said it has achieved the best return – albeit negative – of the country’s pensions sector for the first three months of 2022, with its chief investment officer attributing the relative success to a cautious equities strategy going into the quarter, with an emphasis on value stocks.

Without revealing full results, the labour-market pension fund said a customer with moderate risk and 15 years to retirement had received a return of -0.98%, in a first quarter characterised by “headwinds in the financial markets” resulting from rising inflation, interest rate hikes and the war in Ukraine.

Sampension said in the statement about Q1 returns that this particular example had been ”the best return in the industry” according to a statement from independent investment expert Nikolaj Holdt Mikkelsen.

Henrik Olejasz Larsen, CIO at Sampension, said: “Our investments in listed equities have been the main contributor to the return in the quarter, where we have benefited from a cautious exposure at the beginning of the year.”

He said the firm had also focused on value equities, which had proved more robust to interest rate rises than had growth equities, and that its alternative investments such as in infrastructure and properties had also contributed positively to the first quarter result.

“Markets fell the most in January, slightly less in February, and in March we actually saw increases,” Olejasz Larsen said.

This year’s first quarter had been a reminder that market fluctuations were “no reason for pension customers to panic,” he said, because they could quickly recover, and since pension savings were a long-term investment, they would not be affected by short-term unrest.

Yesterday, Denmark’s largest commercial pensions provider PFA posted a 4.3% investment loss at group level for the first three months of 2022, thanking inflation hedging and its large property portfolio for limiting the losses amid a “difficult” start to the year.

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