A big pension made big changes in its equities investments late in 2020.
The Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System initiated a large position in electric-vehicle giant
(ticker: TSLA), and bought more
(GE) stock in the fourth quarter. Lasers, as the pension is known, disclosed the trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Lasers, which managed $12.6 billion in assets as of June 30, 2020, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the stock trades.
The pension bought 80,900 Tesla shares in the fourth quarter. It hadn’t owned any at the end of September.
Tesla stock rocketed more than eight times in value over 2020, and shares have gained 17.1% in the first two weeks of 2021. In comparison, the
S&P 500 index,
a measure of the broad market, rose 16.3% in 2020, and has eked out a 0.3% gain so far in January.
Tesla was recently added to the S&P 500, giving it a higher profile, as many exchange-traded funds that track the index bought shares of the new component stock. The continued rise of Tesla shares pushed up the value of CEO Elon Musk’s holdings, making him the richest person in the world. Depending on how it is valued, Tesla could either be a $1 trillion company, or close to becoming one.
Lasers bought 664,900 more Apple shares, raising its investment in the iPhone maker to 1.5 million shares as of Dec. 31.
Apple stock surged 80.8% in 2020, but it has slipped 4.2% so far in January.
Apple has closed a number of retail locations in response to spiking coronavirus cases. We’ve speculated that the company is planning to develop an all-electric car, but we’re skeptical of the feasibility of the move. Apple’s 2021 performance will come down to its phones.
Microsoft stock soared 41.0% in 2020, but it has slipped 4.4% so far in the new year.
The software giant’s latest earnings were strong, but some were disappointed by Microsoft’s guidance. A shift to cloud computing paid off as office workers were forced home by the coronavirus pandemic. One observer remains upbeat on Microsoft stock’s prospects.
Lasers bought 302,500 more Microsoft shares to end 2020 with 686,800 shares.
The pension also bought 99,200 more shares of GE, ending December with 543,700 shares.
GE stock slipped 3.2% in 2020, but it has wiped out that loss with a 4.9% gain since the new year.
The conglomerate’s shares had been laid low as the pandemic roiled markets early in 2020, but by early October, the stock entered a stealth bull market by rallying more than 20%. Aerospace optimism seemed to be lifting GE stock. Wall Street commentary turned more positive on the shares. We’ve noted that GE stock, over the last century, has an average annual return of 9%.
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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