Mutual funds are on track for their best year in more than a decade.

About 56% of large-cap mutual funds have outperformed the broader market year to date, putting the group on track to tally its best year since 2007, according to portfolio strategy research analysts at Goldman Sachs.

Source: Goldman Sachs
Source: Goldman Sachs

Overweight industries within outperforming sectors, including information technology, consumer discretionary and energy, have supported strong mutual fund returns this year, Goldman said. "The highest conviction stock positions and a favorable macro landscape have also boosted outperformance," analysts added.

With their strong performance so far in a year marked with relative uncertainty, mutual funds seemed to have the right stock-picking sense. Funds shifted their directional view to rate the energy sector overweight for the first time since at least 2012 in the first quarter of this year, Goldman found.

In addition to renewed bullishness on energy, large-cap mutual funds most increased their allocation in the first quarter to consumer staples, up 32bps, and to financials, up 31bps.

Information technology remained overweight among the big mutual funds, but the funds have recently reduced their relative allocation to the sector to the lowest level since at least 2012, according to Goldman. Despite that decline, funds remain overweight tech by 65bps, second only to financials overweight 138bps.

Goldman analysts' basket of mutual fund overweight-rated names has outperformed underweights by 550bps and the S&P 500 by 250bps since the start of the year, Goldman noted. Constituents with the largest overweight in Goldman's fund basket are Visa Inc. (V) , Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) , Citigroup Inc. (C) , Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) and Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) . Constituents with the largest underweight are Apple Inc. (AAPL) , Berkshire Hathaway Inc.  (BRK.B) , Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) , Intel Corp. (INTC) and AT&T Inc. (T) .

Mutual funds' strong 2018 performance followed what was a fruitful 2017 for many large-cap funds. According to Goldman, performance has paid off. Large-cap funds that beat their benchmarks by more than 100bps in 2017 saw inflows of $10 million or more in the first quarter of 2018, far and away topping the $3 million of outflows for the median fund during the same time.

The best performing mutual funds were most overweight tech and increased their allocation to both tech and energy sectors in the first quarter of 2018. By contrast, funds that experienced outflows on average hold tech at index weight.

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