Daily Israel Report

Israeli Investments Made Millions for Harvard

Rumors that Harvard sold Israeli shares as an anti-Israel move turn out to be false. The university simply sold at market highs and made millions.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/16/2010, 11:03 PM / Last Update: 8/16/2010, 10:54 PM

Flash 90

Harvard University’s investment fund reported it sold nearly $40 million in shares of Israel-based companies, but the sales appear to have been more of a smart money-making move than an anti-Israel "disinvestment” action.

The rumor mill spun around at full force when Globes reported on Sunday that the Harvard Management Fund sold out its Israeli investments in what it described as “another blow to Israeli shares." The Fund, in its required report to the U.S. Securities and exchange Commission on Friday, reported it sold the holdings in the second quarter of this year.

Political analysts jumped on the action as proof that Harvard was participating in the left-wing movement’s international effort to boycott Israel and sell investments of companies that are involved in activities in Judea and Samaria.

Another explanation was that Harvard dumped the Israeli shares because of concern that Israel’s new designation of a developed market would cause a drop in investments in Israel.

However, a quick look at Harvard’s sell-off shows that the companies are not active in Judea and Samaria and that the shares were sold after they dropped from market highs. Assuming the shares were bought several months or years beforehand for the long term, Harvard made millions even though the stocks were sold far from their record highs.

The largest sell-off was nearly half a million shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals, which hit at an all-time high of more than $64 a share at the end of the first quarter. The stock now is selling around $50, which was its all-time high until the middle of 2009.

Harvard sold shares in two cellular phone companies, Partner Communications and Cellcom, which also were selling at relatively high prices and have since dropped by up to 20 percent since the second quarter.

Other Israeli companies’ shares that were sold were NICE Systems and Check Point Software.

Anyone looking to Harvard for guidance on how to beat the market should note that its largest holdings are in funds that track Chinese and Brazilian markets.