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U.S. Equity markets climbed during the first quarter of 2013, as investors focused on solid growth in corporate earnings and continued monetary accommodation from the Federal Reserve. The gains came against a backdrop of continued uncertainty regarding the European sovereign debt crisis, and signs of improved economic growth in China and other key emerging markets.
The Fed noted that the U.S. economy "generally expanded at a modest to moderate pace" in January and early February, based on reports from the 12 Fed districts. The Fed said most districts reported expansion in consumer spending, although retail sales slowed in several districts. The manufacturing and service sectors showed improvement.1 The third estimate for the fourth quarter of 2012 showed that the economy grew by an annualized rate of 0.4%, versus the previous estimate of an increase of 0.1%. Third-quarter 2012 growth was 3.1%.2
The S&P 500® Index3 rose 10.6% during the quarter, reaching an all-time closing high on March 28. Gains occurred in all of the 10 major sectors. The consumer discretionary, consumer staples, financials, health care, industrials, and utilities sectors outperformed the broader market. Value stocks (as represented by the Russell 3000® Value Index4) outperformed growth stocks (as measured by the Russell 3000® Growth Index5). Small cap stocks (as represented by the Russell 2000® Index6) outperformed large caps (as represented by the Russell 1000® Index7).
The Fund returned 11.24%, reflecting the performance at the net asset value (NAV) of Class A shares, with all distributions reinvested for the quarter ended March 31, 2013. The Fund's benchmark, the Russell Midcap® Growth Index,8 returned 11.51%. Average annual total returns, which reflect performance at the maximum 5.75% sales charge applicable to Class A share investments and include the reinvestment of all distributions, as of March 31, 2013, are: one year: 2.14%; five years: 6.34%; and 10 years: 9.15%. Expense ratio, gross: 1.42%, and net: 1.40%
Performance data quoted represent past performance, which does not guarantee future results. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The investment return and principal value of an investment in the fund will fluctuate so that shares, on any given day or when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. To obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end, call Lord Abbett at 1-888-522-2388 or visit us at www.lordabbett.com.
Equity markets moved notably higher in the first quarter of the year, as lawmakers narrowly avoided the "fiscal cliff" and investor sentiment improved globally. Despite questions surrounding the viability of the eurozone, U.S. indexes managed to reach new all-time highs. Regardless of market conditions, we favor a balanced approach to growth. Currently, we are marginally tilting toward cyclically oriented companies that should benefit from continued slow improvement in the U.S. economy.
We underperformed the index slightly during the first quarter's strong rally. The most significant detractor from relative performance came from the consumer discretionary sector. Shares of Michael Kors Holdings Limited, a designer of apparel and accessories, fell from their all-time high as the company announced a secondary stock offering. Limited Brands, Inc., operator of specialty retail brands, including Victoria's Secret, also lagged during the quarter, as forecasts were weaker than expected.
Security selection within the information technology sector also detracted from relative performance. Shares of Riverbed Technology, a provider of network management solutions, fell on a weak outlook and news the company's co-founder would be leaving the company. Teradata Corp. was also among the largest detractors, as the provider of data warehousing and analytics saw its shares fall after a lower than expected earnings report tied to cost cutting by major customers.
Our overweight and security selection within the financials sector contributed to relative performance. We increased our active weight within the sector, rotating into asset managers that we anticipate should benefit from rising equity values. Among such names was Eaton Vance Corp; shares of the company rose throughout the quarter on anticipated revenue growth tied to rising equity markets. IntercontinentalExchange, Inc., an operator of global markets and clearing houses used for commodities trading, also contributed to relative performance; shares rose on solid earnings and a robust outlook as the firm continues to enter new markets.
Security selection within the health care sector also contributed to relative performance. Shares of Incyte Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company focused on drugs for oncology and inflammation, have risen owing to the significant growth of the company's blood cancer drug, Jakafi, since its release in 2012. Universal Health Services, Inc., one of the largest operators of hospital and health care centers in the United States, also contributed to relative performance. We expect the industry to benefit considerably from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as many previously uninsured hospital patients will be covered by insurance.
Please refer to www.lordabbett.com under the "Portfolio" tab for a complete list of holdings of the Fund, including the securities discussed above.
As U.S. indexes near new all-time highs, investors appear to be edging back into equity markets. The major question facing us now is whether this move will continue. If investors begin to feel sufficiently comfortable with the environment to once again embrace equities, we could see further gains for the current bull market, which began in March 2009 and has recently passed its fourth-year anniversary.
Performance data quoted is historical. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance quoted. The investment return and principal value of an investment in the Fund will fluctuate so that shares, on any given day or when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. To obtain performance data current to the most recent quarter-end, go to quarter ending performance on our Website or call Lord Abbett at (888) 522-2388.
1 The Fund’s dividend yield is shown without sales charges (at NAV) and with maximum sales charges (at MOP). The Fund’s dividend yield takes into account any fee waiver or expense limitation arrangements, if any. Without such fee waivers or expense limitation arrangements, the Fund’s dividend yield would have been lower. Information regarding any fee waivers or expense limitation arrangements applicable to the Fund is provided with the Fund’s expense ratio information.
2 The Fund’s unsubsidized dividend yield is shown without sales charges (at NAV) and with maximum sales charges (at MOP). The Fund’s unsubsidized dividend yield reflects what the yield would have been without the affect of fee waivers or expense limitation arrangements.