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Canada’s Largest Pension Bought Apple, and Sold Tesla and EV Stocks

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Canada Pension Plan’s manager scooped up Apple stock in the first quarter.

Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

Canada’s largest public pension was more upbeat on iPhones than electric vehicles in the first few months of 2023.

Canada Pension Plan scooped up Apple stock (ticker: AAPL), and slashed positions in EV makers Tesla (TSLA), NIO (NIO), XPeng (XPEV), and Li Auto (LI) in the first quarter. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, known as CPP Investments, which manages the pension, disclosed the stock trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CPP Investments declined to comment on the investment changes. The pension had assets of $420 billion as of March 31.

Apple stock rose 27% in the first quarter, compared with a 7% rise in the S&P 500 index. So far in the second quarter, shares are up 6.4% while the index is up 2.3%.

In the past week, Apple struck a “multiyear, multibillion-dollar agreement” with chip maker Broadcom (AVGO) to develop 5G radio frequency components and other wireless connectivity components. We’ve noted that Apple’s new savings account could give fintechs a run for their money.

CPP Investments bought 255,943 more Apple shares in the first quarter to lift its stake to 760,518 shares.

The pension slashed positions in EV makers Tesla, NIO, XPeng, and Li Auto to 454,055 shares, 1.6 million American depositary receipts, 61,000 ADRs, and zero ADRs, respectively, from 959,728 shares, 2.3 million ADRs, 621,300 ADRs, and 536,797 ADRs, respectively, at the end of 2022.

Tesla stock soared 68% in the first quarter, and so far in the second shares are down 6.9%.

The Chinese EV makers NIO, XPeng, and Li Auto saw their ADRs gain 7.8%, 12%, and 22%, respectively, in the first quarter. So far in the second quarter, NIO, XPeng, and Li Auto ADRs are down 27%, down 26%, and up 13%.

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Chinese EV makers have been hammered by a number of factors, not the least of which are moves by Tesla, the star quarterback of EV stocks, which has been cutting prices.

So why has Li Auto been outperforming its Chinese peers, and even Tesla, so far in the second quarter? Li Auto reported a strong first quarter. EV deliveries set a record, and the company expects them to continue surging.

Li Auto Chief Financial Officer Tie Li said in the May 10 earnings release, “Our strong cash flow and healthy balance sheet have well positioned us to continue investing in our future, empowering research and development across products, platforms, and systems as well as business expansion to create value for both our users and our shareholders.”

The pension may have missed the second-quarter run in Li Auto ADRs, unless it bought back in after March 31.

Corrections & Amplifications

Canada Pension Plan had assets of $420 billion as of March 31. A previous version of this article incorrectly said it was $420 million.

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.