Finland's largest investor made a big play in American tech stocks in the third quarter, and most of those bets are paying off.
Varma Mutual Pension Insurance lifted its investment in Apple stock (ticker: AAPL) in the third quarter. The financial giant also initiated positions in Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Nvidia (NVDA), and Twitter (TWTR).
Varma disclosed the transactions in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission . The firm, which managed U.S.-traded securities valued at $6.52 billion as of Sept. 30 , didn't respond to a request for comment on the stock trades. At the end of the second quarter, Varma managed total assets of EUR47.7 billion ( $52.6 billion ).
Apple , AMD, Nvidia , and Twitter are all trouncing the S&P 500 so far in 2019, and all but Twitter are beating the index so far in the last quarter of the year.
Varma bought 40,000 more Apple shares in the third quarter, raising its investment to 390,000 shares of the iPhone maker. Apple stock has more than wiped out its 6.8% drop in 2018; it now sports a 49.9% gain for 2019 so far, through Friday's close. The S&P 500 has managed to rise 19.1% year to date. In addition, Apple stock has already surged 5.6% in October, while the index is flat.
Apple stock's rise has lifted the company's market capitalization past $1 trillion . Analysts are upbeat about the iPhone 11 and the company's plan to launch a video-streaming subscription service.
The Finnish pension giant bought 400,000 AMD shares in the third quarter. It hadn't owned any at the end of the second quarter. AMD stock has rocketed 67.8% year to date, following a 79.6% surge in 2018. It is up 6.8% so far in October.
AMD seems to be making gains at the expense of rival Intel (INTC). At least one analyst thinks AMD chips are better.
Varma took a position of 100,000 Nvidia shares in the third quarter. The chip maker's stock has vaulted 42.7% year to date, nearly wiping out last year's 31.9% drop. This quarter, the stock has surged 9.42%.
Nvidia shares got a lift from an upbeat assessment of the company's artificial-intelligence prospects. Fundamental factors, such as Nvidia's ability to win market share from its rivals, seem to be on track.
Twitter stock has soared 35.7% so far this year, nearly doubling last year's 19.7% rise. Varma bought 500,000 shares of the social-media firm. Twitter stock has slipped about 5.4% since Sept. 30 .
Upbeat earnings have supported Twitter stock this year. The platform has been the primary channel for President Donald Trump's thoughts on dozens of issues, as well as a forum for comments that have helped to sustain the gold rally, as well as offending the Chinese government.
Owning American stocks also paid off for Varma earlier this year. Varma reported strong results for the first half of the year. Publicly traded equities had the best returns, and U.S. equities were the top performer within that group .
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.