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Yale's endowment outperforms Harvard's; Harvard still richer

24 September 2016
Yale's endowment outperforms Harvard's; Harvard still richer

Harvard University's nation-leading $35.7 billion endowment suffered a 2 percent loss on its investments in fiscal 2016.

Narvekar has turned in an impressive performance in recent years as Columbia's endowment has grown to $9.6 billion.

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The Harvard Management Company is still searching for a permanent CEO after former chief executive Stephen Blyth resigned in July.

Harvard has had three investment chiefs since 2005 and is now searching for a new one.

A number of other universities have also been hurt by volatile market conditions.

The underperformance of the endowment, which is still the largest university endowment in the USA with $35.7 billion in assets, was due primarily to two underperforming sectors: public equity, accounting for 29% of assets, and natural resources, comprising 10% of assets. Investing in a portfolio of 60 percent U.S. stocks and 40 percent bonds would have produced a 6.9 percent gain. Yale, which has the second-largest US school fund behind Harvard, has the best return among school funds that have posted so far.

The school has been trying to mount a comeback since it lost 27.3 percent in 2009 during the financial crisis.

Earlier this year, Harvard made a decision to have outside managers make more of its equity investments and scaled back its internal stock picking operation. Some of them had similar stock investments, particularly in health care, which helped contribute to the losses, he said.

Its natural resources portfolio underperformed its benchmark by over 1100 basis points (that's equivalent to 11%) primarily because of "unfavorable market and business conditions across two assets in South America", the report noted, presumably referring to the timber plantations it owns in Argentina.

The endowment's real estate portfolio had a strong year, which posted gains of almost 14%.