Large-capitalization growth stocks posted solid first-quarter gains. In general, growth stocks outperformed value shares across all market capitalizations, but large-caps trailed the returns of small- and mid-cap stocks. From a sector perspective, health care and consumer discretionary generated outsized returns within the broad-based S&P 500 Index, while utilities, energy, and financials declined. Growth in the U.S. economy slowed sharply in the first quarter, though harsh winter weather appears to have played a substantial role. Currency translation stemming from the strong U.S. dollar is pressuring revenues and earnings of multinational corporations by both reducing the attractiveness of U.S. exports and weighing on capital expenditures by internationally focused U.S. firms.
The New America Growth Fund returned 5.78% in the quarter compared with 0.95% for the S&P 500 Index and 4.61% for the Lipper Multi-Cap Growth Funds Index. For the 12 months ended March 31, 2015, the fund returned 16.88% versus 12.73% for the S&P 500 Index and 14.25% for the Lipper Multi-Cap Growth Funds Index. The fund's average annual total returns were 16.88%, 15.24%, and 10.19% for the 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods, respectively, as of March 31, 2015. The fund's expense ratio was 0.81% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2013.
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The portfolio invests in companies that we believe can generate above-average earnings and cash flow growth. We employ a bottom-up stock selection strategy and focus on companies that can grow organically and don't depend on economic expansion to perform well. Information technology, consumer discretionary, and health care sectors remained the portfolio's largest allocations (and significant overweights versus the S&P 500 Index), accounting for more than two-thirds of assets. Stock selection in each of these sectors generated strong contributions to absolute and relative performance. Compared with our benchmark, we have significant underweight allocations to financials, energy, and consumer staples stocks and minimal exposure to telecommunication services, which was the only sector that detracted from the portfolio's relative results.
We remain optimistic about the outlook for growth stocks, though market volatility is likely to remain elevated. Even after recording strong gains for the last several years, we believe that the valuations for many high-quality companies remain reasonable, and the longer-term earnings outlook for most sectors (excluding energy) appears favorable. Outside the U.S., growth in Europe; Japan; and several of the larger emerging markets, such as China and Brazil, has lagged the U.S. We expect the strengthening U.S. dollar and weaker end markets abroad to continue to weigh on the earnings of many multinational corporations. The portfolio has a slightly greater international tilt than it has in the past, as we are finding more attractive opportunities in companies based outside the U.S.