Norway’s $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, generated a 9.4% return in the first half of the year after its investments in energy, finance and technology companies helped drive double-digit gains in its stock portfolio.
The Oslo-based fund returned almost 14% on stocks, with energy investments up nearly 20%, it said on Wednesday. Investments in bonds and renewable energy infrastructure slipped, while real-estate holdings added 4.6%. Overall, its total return was marginally higher than that of the benchmark against which it measures itself.
Chief Executive Officer Nicolai Tangen, a former hedge-fund manager who’s been running Norway’s giant sovereign investment vehicle for almost a year, has previously cautioned against expecting continued bumper returns. Earlier this week, he said that inflation is now emerging as the biggest threat to returns with both stocks and bonds potentially vulnerable. That’s amid an ongoing debate as to whether price growth is “transitory” or becoming more entrenched. U.S. inflation has been above 5% for the past two months, the highest in over a decade.
Prices are up, though the climb looks less steep over a 2-year period
Since Tangen started as CEO, Norway’s wealth fund has spoken more publicly of a commitment to sustainability. The investor plans to step up the pace at which it offloads companies that pose a risk when viewed through an environmental, social or governance lens. It will also limit its exposure to emerging markets as part of the same strategy.
Meanwhile, the fund has been pushing through a broader shift in its weighting to favor North America over Europe, in pursuit of higher returns. On Wednesday, it revealed a 16.8% increase in the value of its technology holdings, which are dominated by stakes in Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com. Inc.
Created in the 1990s to invest Norway’s oil and gas revenues abroad, the fund delved into renewable infrastructure for the first time earlier this year. The move represents a landmark expansion of the list of the fund’s asset classes, which had been limited to stocks, bonds and real estate.