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Harvard Management Company Sells Holdings in Tech, Increases Facebook Investments in Third Quarter

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Harvard Management Company sold its holdings in several technology and pharmaceutical companies while increasing its investments in Facebook as its public securities portfolio fell by 2 percent to $1.71 billion in the third quarter of 2021.

HMC reported the figure in its latest filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The regulatory agency requires investment managers who oversee more than $100 million in assets to disclose public securities holdings each quarter.

The University’s stock portfolio, one of the only publicly available sources of information on HMC’s investments, accounts for 3 percent of Harvard’s endowment.

The University’s endowment spiked to $53.2 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2021, posting 33.6 percent returns as its investments benefited from strong public and private equity markets.

In the third quarter, which ran from June 1 to Sept. 30, HMC sold off its stocks in the technology companies Palo Alto Network and Intercontinental Exchange. Over the same period, it also sold its holdings in DaVita Inc, a healthcare company owned by Berkshire Hathaway; Unity Software, a video game software development company; Pinduoduo Inc, one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms; NuCana, a biopharmaceutical company focusing on cancer treatments; and Cortexyme, a biopharmaceutical company focusing on treatments for degenerative diseases.

HMC also sold some of its shares in Apple, decreasing its holdings in the tech company from $333 million to $267 million. Apple was nonetheless the largest single holding reported in the filing.

HMC increased its shares in Facebook by 37 percent, to a current value of around $242 million. The filing describes investments made in the third quarter, which predated the Facebook company’s October announcement that it would rebrand as Meta Platforms.

The University also expanded its portfolio by purchasing shares in biotechnology companies Pacific Biosciences of California and Sana Biotechnologies, and financial technology company Affirm Holdings. The total value of these holdings stand at $5.9 million, $26.2 million, and $89.8 million, respectively.

In its largest acquisition of the quarter, HMC purchased 61,070 shares totalling $163 million in Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

John M. Longo, a professor at Rutgers Business School and the Chief Investment Officer for the Beacon Trust, wrote in an email that the changes in investments do not reflect major changes to the course of the endowment’s investment strategy.

Consistent with past quarters, the majority of companies HMC has public securities in are in the technology, biotechnology, or pharmaceutical sectors.

“The changes made by Harvard Management Company (HMC) appear to be incremental in nature rather than a significant change in asset allocation or industry exposure,” Longo wrote.

He added that the acquisition of Facebook and Alphabet shares indicate HMC’s confidence in the two technology companies.

“They also appear to have a lot of confidence in Facebook, now known as Meta Platforms, since they added to its position when it was already among their largest equity holdings,” Longo wrote. “The new position in Alphabet also indicates a high level of confidence since it is among their top 5 equity holdings.”

Patrick S. McKiernan, a spokesperson for HMC, declined to comment on the filings, citing the endowment’s policy not to comment on individual investments.

—Staff Writer Virginia L. Ma can be reached at virginia.ma@thecrimson.com.

—Staff Writer Kevin A. Simauchi can be reached at kevin.simauchi@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @Simauchi.