The top 100 U.S. corporate pension plans in aggregate were fully funded at the end of 2006, a major reversal from past years, Pensions & Investments’ review of annual reports shows.

In dollar terms, the largest 100 plans showed an aggregate $37.5 billion surplus, based on projected benefit obligations, the first surplus since P&I began tracking annual reports in 2002. In 2005, the largest 100 were underfunded by a total of $50.6 billion; in 2004, they were down by $69.5 billion.

Significantly higher investment returns were the largest factor in improved funding. The Russell 3000 index, for example, returned 15.72% last year, vs. 6.12% in 2005.

Top 100 plans fully funded – Pensions & Investments