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A Big Investor Bought Up Moderna and Nvidia. Two Stocks It Sold.

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A large U.K.-based asset manager bought up Moderna and Nvidia stock in the fourth quarter.
Clement Mahoudeau/AFP via Getty Images

A large U.K.-based asset manager made big changes in its U.S. stock portfolio, buying names that outperformed last year, and selling those that had lackluster showings.

Royal London Asset Management significantly raised its investments in Moderna (ticker: MRNA ), the producer of Covid-19 vaccines, and graphics-chip maker Nvidia (NVDA) in the fourth quarter. It slashed its positions in the software giant Salesforce.com (CRM) and satellite-radio firm Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI).

The asset manager disclosed the stock trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. RLAM declined to comment on the transactions. It managed $223 billion in assets as of Dec. 31.

RLAM bought 50,701 more Moderna shares to end the fourth quarter with 170,336 shares. Moderna stock soared 143% in 2021, compared with a 27% rise in the S&P 500 index, but so far in 2022, shares have slipped 37% while the index is down 7%.

Moderna stock hit a 52-week intraday high of $497.49 in early August before beginning a long slide following the release of the company’s second-quarter report. Shares ended 2021 at $253.98, continuing their cold streak into January as the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. Shares closed Friday at $159.47.

The manager bought 539,518 Nvidia shares to end the fourth quarter with 2 million shares. Nvidia stock soared 125% in 2021, and so far in 2022 shares have dropped 22%.

Strong earnings and upbeat outlooks pushed Nvida shares higher in 2021—a streak hot enough by year-end that one observer suggested that the company should join the so-called FAANG stocks, replacing Netflix (NFLX) as the “N.”

Salesforce stock gained 14% in 2021, but so far in 2022, shares have dropped 13%.

Mixed guidance by Salesforce in its latest quarterly report, at the end of November, sent shares sliding and shook up investors’ views of the entire cloud-computing sector. Barron’s noted earlier this month that Salesforce stock looked undervalued at $255.46—it closed Friday at $222.13.

RLAM sold 208,926 Salesforce shares to end the fourth quarter with 320,830.

The manager sold 189,272 Sirius XM shares to end the quarter with 177,003 shares. Sirius XM stock was essentially flat in 2021 despite coming under pressure as component shortages cut into auto sales. We noted in November that Warren Buffett and media mogul John Malone used the shares for a tax-efficient stock swap. In mid-January, J.P. Morgan downgraded Sirius XM stock to Underweight from Neutral, citing diminishing growth, slowing share repurchases, and a view that management’s forecasts for 2022 won’t meet expectations.

So far this year, the stock is down 2.5%.

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 edward.lin@barrons.com and follow @BarronsEdLin.

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