The returns realized by mutual fund shareholders in 2014 depended significantly on the categories they chose and, at least on the domestic equity front, whether they went with an active or a passive fund.
We bring this up because a significant part of a fund’s returns are influenced by the performance of the category it operates in. For example, the average energy fund plunged 18.0% last year. The culprit: oil. Oil prices fell from $105.37 per barrel on June 30, 2014, to $53.27 per barrel on December 31, 2014. Fund managers required by their funds’ objectives to invest in energy stocks in their portfolios could do nothing but sit and grimace.