State of Wisconsin Investment Board: WRS funds see strong finish in 2010

Contact: Vicki Hearing


Phone: (608) 261-2415

Madison, WI (January 11,2011) – During another challenging year for the U.S. economy both Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) Funds earned solid returns, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) announced today. The Core Fund, the larger of the two WRS trust funds, with diversified holdings in domestic and international stocks, bonds, loans, real estate, and private equity ended the year with a preliminary return of 12.3 percent. The preliminary market value of the Core Fund on December 31, 2010, was $73.5billion. The Variable Fund, an optional, U.S. and international stock fund, ended the year with a preliminary return of 15.6 percent. The Variable Fund’s preliminary market value was $5.6 billion on December 31.

Both funds surpassed their benchmarks of 12.1 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively. The benchmarks include market indices for the various types of assets managed by SWIB.

Strong stock markets in the fourth quarter gave the trust funds a boost after a slow start. In October, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its highest monthly gain since 2006, rising 3 percent. That trend continued and the S&P 500 Index returned 6.7% for the month of December and 10.8% for the fourth quarter.

“While U.S. stocks ended with a strong performance, uncertainty about economic recovery continues,” cautioned Keith Bozarth, SWIB executive director. “Housing remains weak and the unemployment level remains high in the U.S. In addition, concerns over the global credit markets remain.

“A change in direction for those factors would be a positive sign for improved economic growth,” Bozarth noted.

Assets under management at SWIB are about $83.8 billion as of December 31, 2010. This includes approximately $79.1 billion in trust funds of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), which provides benefits to over 560,000 current or former employees of state agencies, the university system, school districts and most local governments. The WRS is the 9th largest US public pension fund and the 30th largest public or private pension fund in the world.