Fund performance: Polaris sees nice gain in LACERS portfolio

What a difference six months makes.

The final half of 2012 brought significant gains to the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System’s venture portfolio. For example, 2011 vintage Polaris Venture Partners VI soared to astronomical heights, and Vicente Capital Partners GEF climbed into positive territory.

New Enterprise Associates 13 also gained ground and DFJ Frontier Fund II ended the year with an improvement, according to LACERS’s latest portfolio report from.

On the other end of the spectrum, the cleantech-focused NGEN II continues to struggle mightily.

Overall, the LACERS venture portfolio ended 2012 in solid shape. The pension manager has 24 venture funds with vintages of 2004 to 2011, and 15 of the funds had positive IRRs at year-end. Nine had negative IRRs or IRRs of zero.

Spark Capital II continues to be the performance standout. The 2008 fund had an IRR of 50.31% and a high level of distributions at the end of 2012, though no significant new distributions came in the second half of the year. NEA 13 increased its standing, with an improved IRR of 17.58% and a modest trickle of distributions.

The 2011 vintage Khosla Ventures IV saw its IRR pull back slightly to 15.59%

The big winner, however, was the Polaris fund – PVP VI – which by year-end boasted an IRR of 103.42%, up from -64.99% six months earlier. Only a small amount of committed capital has been called, so the fund still has plenty to prove. But so far, so good.

Vicente Capital Partners GEF also was a big gainer. It’s year-end IRR was 12.55%, up from -5.63%.

Trailing the field was NGEN II with an IRR of -75.41%. Spark Capital III, a 2011 vintage fund, also has work ahead of it with an IRR of -17.77%

Please find the 24 funds in the accompanying chart with their commitments, distributions and IRRs as of December 2012.