Market

Largest U.S. Pension Slashed Positions in Alibaba, Palantir, and GameStop. Here’s What It Bought.

Calpers sold nearly all its investment in Alibaba, and halved positions in Palantir and GameStop stock.


Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

The largest U.S. public pension by assets recently made major changes in its stock portfolio.

California Public Employees’ Retirement System cut its positions in
Alibaba Group Holding
(ticker: BABA),
Palantir Technologies
(PLTR), and
GameStop
(GME), in the first quarter. Calpers, as the pension is known, also bought more
Zoom Video Communications
(ZM) stock during the period.

The pension disclosed the stock trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Calpers, which manages assets of $460 billion, declined to comment.

The pension sold 4.1 million Alibaba American depositary receipts to end the first quarter with 251,815 ADRs of the Chinese online giant.

Alibaba ADRs have been trailing the market. In the first quarter, they slipped 2.6% while the
S&P 500 index
rose 5.8%. The ADRs have slipped 6.9% so far in the second quarter through Friday’s close, while the index has risen 4.6%.

Alibaba recently reported a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in March, a period marked with a $2.8 billion fine imposed upon the company by Chinese regulators. News of the $2.8 billion fine actually sent Alibaba ADRs higher, as it marked an end of uncertainty to investors.
Charlie Munger
recently oversaw an investment in Alibaba ADRs.

Calpers sold 718,652 Palantir shares to chop its stake down to 547,154 shares of the software company.

Palantir stock slipped 1.1% in the first quarter, and so far in the second quarter, it has tumbled 11.0%, a decline that has come amid concerns over the company’s growth rate and valuation. Shares got a boost last month after Palantir announced a contract with a nuclear safety agency. In February, Barron’s suggested a way to play the company’s volatile options.

GameStop stock rose 10 times in value in the first quarter, and has slipped 6.9% so far in the second.

We noted in April that the frenzy surrounding GameStop as a meme stock seemed to be ebbing. Some money managers lucked into the videogame retailer’s surge. The SEC might introduce new rules based on the volatility surrounding GameStop and other market events.

Calpers sold 77,213 GameStop shares to end March with 57,700 shares.

The pension bought 228,036 additional Zoom Video shares to lift its investment to 930,773 shares of the videoconferencing company.

Zoom Video stock dropped 4.8% in the first quarter, and so far in the second it has slipped 1.5%.

One analyst suggests selling Zoom Video stock, as the stay-at-home play is winding down, but another sees it as a way to benefit from an anticipated swell in enterprise spending. Last month, the company launched a $100 million venture fund to invest in companies building applications and hardware based on the Zoom Video’s software platform.

Inside Scoop is a regular Barron’s feature covering stock transactions by corporate executives and board members—so-called insiders—as well as large shareholders, politicians, and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock trades with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory groups.

Write to Ed Lin at [email protected] and follow @BarronsEdLin.



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