Princeton Endowment Loses Ivy League Crown

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(Bloomberg) -- Princeton’s endowment lost its title as the best performer in the Ivy League after returning 6.2% in fiscal 2019, the school said Friday.

Princeton University led the pack with a 14.2% return in 2018. This year, the crown goes to Brown University, the smallest Ivy League endowment, which posted a 12.4% gain.

Ivy League and other large endowments experienced a significant slide in performance. Many funds boosted allocations to alternative investments including hedge funds in recent years while scaling back exposure to U.S. equities. That misstep has been costly. Almost all of the college funds underperformed the S&P 500 Index, which gained 10.4% in the 12 months through June.

“This was a year in which diversification of any kind hurt,” Andrew Golden, president of Princeton’s investment company, said in an interview. “The international markets were less kind to us.”

Princeton’s fund, which managed $26.1 billion in June, had a target allocation of 16% of its fund to international equities and 9% to U.S. stocks in 2019, according to the most recent treasurer’s report. The New Jersey school’s largest target has been 27% for private equity, which includes venture capital. The fund has returned an average annual of 11.6% over 10 years.

In a year when returns have fallen, schools including Princeton, Harvard and Yale are facing a new tax on investment gains, which support school operations such as financial aid. They are set to pay a federal tax of 1.4% on net investment returns for fiscal 2019.

Princeton’s endowment covers more than half of the school’s annual operating costs. Golden, who has run the fund since 1995, is undertaking an effort to mentor 50 women and minorities to help make the industry more diverse.

Ivy League School

FY 2019

FY 2018

Assets (billions)

Brown12.4%13.2%$4.2
Dartmouth7.512.25.7
U Pennsylvania6.512.914.7
Harvard6.51040.9
Princeton6.2 14.226.1
Yale5.712.330.3
Cornell5.310.67.3
Columbia3.8911

Note: Fiscal year ends June 30

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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