New Jersey’s embattled state pension made some big investment moves in the calendar fourth quarter.
The state fund cut back on
stock (MSFT), all of which beat the market in 2019. New Jersey’s pension also loaded up on American depositary receipts of
Alibaba Group Holding
(BABA), another name that topped the
index. The pension disclosed the stock trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
New Jersey’s Division of Investment, which manages the pension, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
As of June 30, 2018, the latest fiscal report, the pension’s net assets were only 38.41% of its total liability, although that was an improvement from 35.79% the year before.
Apple stock rocketed 86.1% in 2019, lifted by strong demand for the iPhone 11, and a burgeoning services business. The performance far outstripped the 28.9% rise in the
index, a proxy for the market. As the year wound down with the stock sporting a hefty gain, we questioned if Apple could consider a stock split.
New Jersey’s pension sold 331,446 Apple shares in the fourth quarter, ending the year with 3.3 million shares. So far this year, Apple stock has gained 8.6% through Tuesday’s close, compared with a 2.1% rise in the index.
AT&T stock has tumbled 3.7% so far in 2020, although the telecom and media giant’s shares surged 36.9% in 2019.
We noted in December that one observer thought AT&T’s strong run could continue with the rollout of 5G wireless and HBO Max. AT&T also lifted its dividend in December, closing a year that saw strong earnings.
New Jersey’s pension sold a quarter of a million AT&T shares in the fourth quarter to end December with 5.3 million shares.
The pension sold 313,091 Microsoft shares in the quarter, cutting its investment to 5.3 million shares of the software giant.
Microsoft stock surged 55.3% last year, and it has gained 14.2% so far this year. Strong earnings have lifted shares in 2020, and at least one analyst expects them to rise from here.
New Jersey’s pension bought 133,684 Alibaba ADRs in the fourth quarter to end the year with 1.4 million ADRs of the Chinese internet giant.
Alibaba ADRs rallied 54.7% in 2019, buoyed by a strong Hong Kong listing and upbeat earnings. The gains came despite trade tensions between China and the U.S. that flared up throughout the year. Now, in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, Alibaba ADRs still sport a 5.1% gain year to date.
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@example.com and follow @BarronsEdLin.