In a sea of under-performing global markets, India has been an outlier this year thanks to its resilient fundamentals. But while domestic benchmark indices have inched up 5 per cent year to date, gains in equity mutual funds have been much more robust. The best equity funds of 2022 delivered over 70% returns. Here is a round-up of what transpired in the equity MF space in terms of performance.

Best categories

Among the over a dozen equity fund categories, 2022 belong to thematic PSU funds that gained on an average 27+ per cent. This comes after the category clocked an average 36.6 per cent gain in 2021 while losing close to 6 per cent in 2020.

Banking sector equity mutual funds have come in at 2nd position in 2022 so far, with an average gain of nearly 22 per cent. In 2021, this category had delivered 15 per cent and in 2020 it had lost about 5 per cent on an average.

Infrastructure sector funds have come in at 3rd rank, with nearly 12 per cent average gain. Gains in 2022 have moderated from above 51 per cent average return in 2021 and less than 10 per cent returns both in 2019 and 2020. Thematic consumption were at 4th slot with 8.8 per cent gains while value-oriented funds returned 6.5 per cent at 5th slot in 2022. Here is a chart of the best-performing equity fund categories (based on year to date returns).

Best equity funds of 2022

In the massive fund universe of equity-oriented schemes, the space is split into actively-managed and passively-managed offerings. Active-managed funds are where the fund manager takes the investment decisions on their own. Given the good gains clocked by PSU, infrastructure and thematic offerings, the top-performing list in this segment is led by ICICI Pru Infrastructure , SBI PSU, ABSL PSU, Quant Quantamental, Invesco India PSU, ICICI Pru India Opportunities and HDFC Infrastructure. They have delivered between 20 and 32 per cent YTD. Take a look at the top-5 in the chart below.

On the passively-managed equity funds’ side, where the portfolio is based on a basket of stocks in an index/ETF, the top performers have given higher returns. Nippon India ETF Nifty PSU Bank BeES is by far the best with a whopping 74 per cent gains, closely followed by Kotak Nifty PSU Bank ETF. ICICI Pru Bharat 22 FoF and Bharat 22 ETF have clocked over 29 per cent each. CPSE ETF is also close by with nearly 29 per cent returns. ICICI Pru Nifty FMCG ETF makes an entry into top-10 passively-managed funds club, which is dominated by products focussed on banking. Take a look at the top-5 in the chart below.

Worst equity funds of 2022

Just like the highs, there are the lows too. The equity fund space in 2022 YTD has its share of duds, many of which come from the international equity fund side. While this category of funds had given double-digit percentage returns in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the mood turned sour in 2022.

Heading this rather unsavoury list is Invesco India - Invesco Global Consumer with over 36 per cent NAV decline. Edelweiss US Tech is second on the list with 34 per cent drop, followed by PGIM India Emerging Markets , Mirae Asset NYSE FANG+ ETF FoF and PGIM India Global Equities. Mirae Asset NYSE FANG+ ETF, Nippon India Taiwan, Franklin India Feeder Franklin US and Kotak Global Innovation FoF also have lost in 27-34 per cent range. Here are details about the worst five equity funds this year.

Readers must note on a equity fund category basis, IT/technology funds with an average YTD loss of 22.6 per cent are the worst of the lot, followed by international equity funds (down 12.8 per cent), sectoral pharma funds (down 9.4 per cent) and thematic ESG funds (down 2 per cent).