Stocks recorded solid gains in the final quarter of the year, helping reverse the previous quarter's slide and pushing large-cap benchmarks back into positive territory for 2015 on a total return (including dividends) basis. Most of the rebound occurred in the first month of the quarter, however, and stock markets were volatile in the closing weeks of the year as terrorist attacks, geopolitical instability, and uncertainty over monetary policies periodically took tolls on sentiment. Both media and telecommunication services shares fared well in the period.
The Media & Telecommunications Fund returned 10.79% in the quarter compared with 5.51% for the Lipper Telecommunication Funds Average. For the 12 months ended December 31, 2015, the fund returned 12.00% versus 0.75% for the Lipper Telecommunication Funds Average. The fund's average annual total returns were 12.00%, 15.03%, and 13.69% for the 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods, respectively, as of December 31, 2015. The fund's expense ratio was 0.80% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2014.
For up-to-date standardized total returns, including the most recent month-end performance, please click on the Performance tab, above.
Current performance may be lower or higher than the quoted past performance, which cannot guarantee future results.
Share price, principal value, and return will vary and you may have a gain or loss when you sell your shares.
Our broad mandate has resulted in a portfolio that is considerably more diverse than many of our peers. In addition to exposure to telecom companies, we have exposure to a wide array of media and technology companies. Public cloud computing adoption continues to strengthen, and we believe that this adoption will progress faster than the market anticipates and will exceed expectations both near and long term. On the telecom side, network upgrades and increased spending should help tower companies as wireless data traffic continues to grow as users of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices download more video and other data-intensive content from the Internet. We believe these companies have some of the cleanest, best, and most consistent businesses and can perform well even in a tough market environment. We are less enthusiastic about companies with legacy, fixed-line telecom businesses that operate in mature markets as increasing competition has created a more difficult environment.
The past five years have been an exceptionally strong period for equity markets. Going forward, we would anticipate returns to be more in line with their historical averages. We are comfortable with the portfolio's positioning as it is invested in a diverse range of telecommunications, media, Internet, and technology companies that have strong underlying fundamentals and are poised to benefit from powerful and durable secular trends that we think will be rewarded over time.