International funds led bank equity funds in performance in the first quarter, with the top 10 averaging a 10.81% return, according to data commissioned by American Banker.
Topping the list was Glenmede Trust Co.'s emerging-markets fund, which gained 13.84% in the first quarter. The fund also had consistency in the past 12 months, delivering a nearly identical 13.82%.
The 174 proprietary international funds offered by banks averaged a 1.54% return, only slightly bettering the 1.52% delivery of nonbank funds in the same category, according to CDA/Wiesenberger, Rockville, Md.
To run its $89.8 million-asset emerging-markets fund, Glenmede called on Switzerland's largest privately held bank, Pictet, which decides what stocks to buy and sell.
"The emerging-markets fund is a little different for us because research on emerging markets is so different," said Glenmede's Andy Williams, director of international equity research.
The fund was strongly weighted toward companies in India, Europe, Turkey, and Russia. In particular, Russian stocks, which made up 2% of the fund, gained an aggregate 62% in the first quarter, Mr. Williams said.
PNC Bank Corp., Pittsburgh, held the second- and third-best performing international funds. Its Compass emerging-markets funds had about a third of their holdings in companies in three Latin American countries-Brazil (17%), Mexico (11%), and Chile (4%). Compass also has help internationally; the funds are subadvised by Castle International, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Rounding out the top five international funds were two from J.P. Morgan - an institutional emerging-markets fund and the Pierpont emerging-markets equity fund.
Excluding international funds, bank mutual fund performance was relatively lackluster.
Amsouth Bank, Birmingham, Ala., topped the list with its long-term growth fund, which returned 5.08% in the first quarter, compared with 13.67% for the past 12 months. The fund has $401.9 million in assets.
Mellon Bank, Pittsburgh, returned 4.88% in the quarter with its Dreyfus growth and value-aggressive value fund. Over 12 months the fund returned 26.36%.
Among taxable bond funds managed by banks and thrifts, the Dreyfus short-term high-yield fund returned 2.59% in the first quarter. Of 476 bank proprietary bond funds, the aggregate decline was 0.38%.
Tax-exempt funds were led by the Evergreen Florida high-income municipal fund from First Union National Bank, Charlotte, N.C., with a return of 0.81%. The 490 bank proprietary municipal funds declined in aggregate by 0.37%.