The first quarter proved to be a difficult environment for secular growth stocks in the media and telecommunications segments. Fears of recession and slowing global growth sparked a sell-off and flight to safety in the first half of the quarter, before a sharp rebound helped erase some of the deepest losses later in the period. More defensive areas of the market, such as telecommunication services, prospered, while many of the better-performing areas of the market in 2015 were caught in the downdraft.
The Media & Telecommunications Fund returned −1.32% in the quarter compared with 5.19% for the Lipper Telecommunication Funds Average. For the 12 months ended March 31, 2016, the fund returned 7.31% versus 3.60% for the Lipper Telecommunication Funds Average. The fund's average annual total returns were 7.31%, 13.14%, and 12.64% for the 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods, respectively, as of March 31, 2016. The fund's expense ratio was 0.79% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2015.
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Two of our areas of focus, online advertising and e-commerce, performed poorly in the quarter but are still poised to benefit from some of the most durable secular trends in any industry. Public cloud computing also continues to grow in popularity, and we believe that its adoption is going to happen faster than the market anticipates and will exceed expectations in both the near and long term. Conversely, our concerns with cable's pay-TV business have grown as the industry remains under pressure, with the trajectory of cord cutting steepening and the advertising ecosystem continuing to deteriorate. On the telecom side, tower companies should benefit from network upgrades and increased spending driven by the need to accommodate the rise in video downloads and other data-intensive content. 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.
Despite the recent period of underperformance, we remain comfortable with how the portfolio is positioned, invested in a diverse range of companies that have strong underlying fundamentals and are poised to benefit from powerful and durable secular trends. While disappointed with how some of our holdings performed in the quarter, we take a longer-term view with the portfolio, focusing on multiyear investments that can compound over time.