The Harvard Management Company more than tripled its shares of Meta Platforms – formerly known as Facebook – as it saw nearly all of its stock holdings fall in value in the first three months of 2022.
The move reversed HMC’s position at the end of 2021, when it nearly halved its Meta holdings. At the end of March, HMC – which is responsible for managing the University’s endowment – held more than 1.2 million shares of Meta, a 230% increase from the 370,000 shares it held three months earlier. .
But the total value of HMC’s Meta holdings rose only 120%, to $274 million, over the same period, reflecting the tech giant’s poor performance in the stock market this year. To date, Meta’s share price is down over 43% in 2022.
HMC’s latest disclosure of its public securities portfolio – required by the Securities and Exchange Commission of all investment managers overseeing more than $100 million in assets – revealed modest changes in its stock holdings during the first quarter, which ran from January 1 to March 31. Consistent with previous reports, almost all of HMC’s direct public investments are in the technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.
Only three of the 44 companies in HMC’s public portfolio saw their stock prices rise in the first quarter. The losses come as major financial indexes, including the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy NASDAQ, continue to suffer significant declines in 2022.
HMC also increased its investment in Alphabet, Google’s parent company, by 43%. The total value of HMC’s holdings in the tech company now stands at $242 million. Together, the company’s investments in Meta and Alphabet made up more than half of HMC’s $990 million public securities portfolio at the end of March.
HMC’s direct public holdings represent less than 2% of the University’s $53.2 billion endowment. The vast majority of University staffing is overseen by external managers. According to the company’s report for fiscal year 2021, 34% of endowment assets reside in private equity while 33% are in hedge funds.
John M. Longo, a professor at Rutgers Business School and chief investment officer of Beacon Trust, wrote in an email that the large allocation of the endowment to alternative investments such as hedge funds “probably preserved capital or led to smaller losses”, despite the turmoil in the stock market.
He added that despite the “disappointing” recent performance of Google and Meta, “both companies remain well positioned for the long term.”
As was the case in the prior quarter, HMC did not invest directly in any exchange-traded funds – managed funds comprised of many underlying securities. HMC’s former ETF holdings, all of which were liquidated in the final quarter of 2021, had long been criticized by activist groups like the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign, who alleged the investments represented the University’s indirect exposure to the prison industry.
In its biggest liquidation of the quarter, HMC sold all of its shares in Royalty Pharma, a company that helps fund clinical trials for new drug treatments. HMC’s holdings in the company stood at $138 million at the end of 2021.
HMC also invested in two new companies during the first quarter: Vigil Neuroscience and Pardes Biosciences. Vigil Neuroscience, which develops treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, is the world’s first therapeutic company focused on microglia, the brain’s central immune system cells. Pardes Biosciences, founded in 2020, is developing antiviral treatments for Covid-19.
Patrick S. McKiernan, spokesman for HMC, declined to comment on the filings.
—Editor Eric Yan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.