A large pension recently made big changes in its U.S.-traded investments.
British Columbia Investment Management raised its investment in marijuana stock Aurora Cannabis (ticker: ACB), and bought more Mastercard (MA) stock, while it cut positions in Visa (V) and Shopify (SHOP) stock in the fourth quarter. The manager of the Canadian province’s public funds disclosed the trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
BCI, as the pension is known, declined to comment on the investment changes. It manages $135 billion in assets.
BCI bought 232,058 additional shares of Aurora Cannabis to end 2020 with 290,404 shares.
Aurora Cannabis stock cratered 68% in 2020, but so far in 2021, it is up 50.2%. In contrast, the S&P 500 index, a measure of the broader market, rose 16.3% last year, and gained 4.8% so far in 2021.
Earlier this month, three Democratic senators led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said they would make marijuana-reform legislation a key priority, sending the sector soaring. Reddit message-board users have focused on the marijuana sector for trading, adding to the volatility. Speaking of volatility, on Friday alone Aurora Cannabis stock tumbled nearly 14% on disappointing results.
The pension also bought 73,385 additional shares of Mastercard to end the year with 566,125 shares of the card giant.
Mastercard stock gained 19.5% in 2020, and has slipped 4.5% so far this year.
Early on in the year, Mastercard received two upgrades based on the idea that shares were a play on the resumption of cross-border travel. Late in January, Barron’s noted that earnings from Mastercard and Visa offered reasons to hope for an economic recovery. Last week, Mastercard said it would support cryptocurrencies.
Visa stock rose 16.4% in 2020, but so far this year it has slipped 4.0%.
Visa in January had to scrap a deal it had made to buy payments-tech firm Plaid. Visa moved on to reach a pact with the fintech TransferWise to expand its debit-card operations. When it reported earnings at the end of January, Visa announced a new $8 billion stock-buyback program.
BCI sold 192,891 Visa shares in the fourth quarter to end the year with 159,593 shares.
The pension sold 63,468 Shopify shares to end 2020 with 261,163 shares of the provider of e-commerce software.
Shopify stock nearly tripling in value last year. So far in 2021, shares have surged 28.6%.
Analysts suggested buying Shopify stock shortly after the new year began. A partnership with Walmart (WMT) has proven to be beneficial for both parties. Shopify was recently added to Facebook (FB) and Instagram stores.
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.