When everybody was bailing out of stocks late last year, the managers of Norway's $1 trillion sovereign wealth saw an opportunity to buy, buy, buy. And the bet has paid off - bigly.
Bloomberg reports that Norway’s $1 trillion wealth fund was up 9.1%, or $84 billion, as stocks embarked on their best start to the year in more than a decade during the first quarter, a total profit that roughly equates to $16,000 per Norwegian citizen. The fund's stock portfolio rose 12.2%, while its bonds gained 2.9% and real estate holdings 1.7%. As of quarter end, the fund was 69.2% in equities, 28% in bonds and 2.8% in real estate.
The fund’s CEO, Yngve Slyngstad, said Q1 was an "exceptional" quarter for the fund, which has departed from its typical of strategy of buying at the highs to finally go all-in on a dip. Q1 was the third-highest quarterly return on record, and the highest ever in terms of kroner (thanks to the strength of the dollar).
Slyngstad directed the fund, which owns roughly 1.4% of global stocks, to buy almost $30 billion in stocks in November through January to take advantage of a drop in prices and up its stock exposure closer to the 70% limit.
"The most significant change in the first quarter was probably the new signals from the Federal Reserve, which to a large degree drove the market," he said in an interview after a press briefing in Oslo. "There have been very different views on macroeconomic developments from different actors."
The fund's highest returns were 20.3% in China and 14.6 percent in North America. Its largest bond holdings were in U.S. Treasuries, followed by Japanese and German government debt. In the first quarter, the government deposited 8 billion kroner into the fund, down from 29 billion kroner in the fourth quarter.