Against a background of recession, the total value of investments in Yale’s name fell from $629.3 million on June 30 to $436.7 million on Sept. 30.
But these holdings represent only a fraction of Yale’s total investments, so it is difficult to draw conclusions about the overall performance of the University’s endowment.
The University reveals the securities held under its own name at the end of every fiscal quarter in a Securities and Exchange Commission form known as a 13-F, which Chief Investment Officer David Swensen recently submitted for the quarter ending Sept. 30.
While the University’s investments in its name are at their lowest value in over a year, the majority of Yale’s investments are managed by outside professionals. The filing shows the relatively small number of assets the University owns and can only provide a snapshot of the securities held on a single day, the last of the quarter.
Under law, the University must file a 13-F form each quarter because it holds over $100 million worth of securities in its own name.
And as administrators and investment officials rarely provide specific information on the success of Yale’s $10.7 billion endowment, the form offers a rare look inside some of Yale’s investment decisions.
While the total value of the investments fell, the investment choices remained largely the same. The University continued to invest heavily in mutual funds including $68,502,000 in Morgan Stanley Dean Witter’s government income fund and $60,822,000 in Royce Value Trust Inc.
Over the past few quarters, the University had owned a far greater share of Royce Value Trust Inc. as it represented the University’s largest investment totalling $122,167,000 on June 30, 2001. The large sell off in shares of Royce Value Trust Inc. was probably the most significant change in the portfolio this quarter.
The University also no longer holds stock in the Philip Morris Cos. Inc. — the cigarette maker and parent of Kraft Foods Inc. and Miller Brewing Co. The company was at the center of a 1998 Yale investment ethics controversy.
In 1998, the University owned $16.9 million dollars of Philip Morris stock, and this large holding started a discussion on ethical investing on campus. After a six-month review of the University’s holdings in tobacco, the Yale Corporation voted not to divest from tobacco holdings.
The University continued to hold stock in Philip Morris into the spring of this year but then sold its shares. While Yale does not hold any more Philip Morris stock in its own name, the private managers may continue to invest the endowment in tobacco companies that include Philip Morris.
Therefore, the disappearance of Philip Morris stocks does not represent a new policy decision but instead is probably just a normal investment decision.
“That policy hasn’t changed,” said professor William Goetzmann, who is the chair of the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. “It is the way it has been for the last few years.”
Goetzmann added that he did not expect the Corporation to reconsider the issue in the near future.
David Corson-Knowles ’03, a member of the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, said he was not sure if Yale still had investments in tobacco.
“I’m bound by a secrecy agreement not to talk about the affairs of the committee, and besides, I’ve asked about tobacco holdings and have yet to get an answer,” Corson-Knowles said.