Despite some large daily swings, stocks roughly traced a V shape in the quarter, declining through the middle of February and then rising for the remainder of the period. Further global monetary easing and a rebound in oil prices led to gains in the second half of the quarter, which more than compensated for earlier losses for the mid- and large-cap benchmarks. Smaller shares recorded losses. Information technology stocks modestly outperformed the overall S&P 500 Index for the quarter, even as the portfolio's Lipper benchmark performed poorly.
The Science & Technology Fund returned −3.15% in the quarter compared with −2.65% for the Lipper Science & Technology Funds Index and 1.35% for the S&P 500 Index. For the 12 months ended March 31, 2016, the fund returned 1.89% versus −1.50% for the Lipper Science & Technology Funds Index and 1.78% for the S&P 500 Index. The fund's average annual total returns were 1.89%, 10.08%, and 8.47% for the 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods, respectively, as of March 31, 2016. The fund's expense ratio was 0.84% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2015.
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.
The portfolio saw negative returns from most of its industry segments in a difficult quarter. Information and software services holdings performed worst, and software shares were also generally weak. Telecom equipment holdings boosted returns.
The sell-off in late 2015 and early 2016 offered us the opportunity to add to both new and existing holdings at what we believe will prove to be attractive prices. Areas such as software-as-a-service and the Internet still appear to offer abundant growth potential, and we are confident that our fundamental research can guide us to identify companies within such promising segments. We are finding opportunities both domestically and abroad. In China, there are attractive opportunities within the Internet space, where we are uncovering the stocks of companies that we believe are trading at low multiples, as well as companies whose future earnings potential are underappreciated. Our team's collaborative approach remains instrumental to developing the industry and company-specific insights that are essential to identifying the best investments