BlackRock’s Global Allocation Fund, the company's largest equities-based mutual fund, added to its position in Facebook (FB) in March, betting the data scandal won’t have a long-term impact on the social media giant.
Citing a person familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that the Global Allocation Fund, which is run by portfolio managers Dan Chamby, Russ Koesterich, David Clayton and Kent Hogshire, added to the Facebook holding in the same month the stock plummeted after the company revealed Cambridge Analytica accessed the information of 87 million Facebook users without their permission. That sent the stock plummeting, taking everything tech related along with it. Shares have recovered somewhat but there is still growing concerns Facebook and other tech companies will face increased regulation. (See more: How Much Can Facebook Potentially Make from Selling Your Data?)
Facebook is now a top 10 stock holding in the BlackRock fund, coming in at sixth place. It’s not clear how many shares the fund now owns or when the stock was purchased. Still, it’s under one percent of the total Global Allocation Fund, which has around $36 billion in assets under management and is comprised of hundreds of stocks as well as bonds and other investments. Apple Inc. (AAPL) is the top holding of the fund, Reuters noted.
For Facebook, the stock purchase by one of the world’s largest fund companies is a powerful, long-term endorsement. With the social media company in the cross hairs and many users vowing to delete their Facebook accounts, getting the backing of a huge shareholder could cushion the blow. For BlackRock, if Facebook’s stock reverses course and increases, it could be a bet that may help improve the fund's returns. Reuters noted the Global Allocation Fund is down 0.05% so far in 2018, although it is beating many of its rivals. It is on pace to see the fourth straight year of outflows or withdrawals, noted the report. (See more: 10 Techs Pulled Down By Facebook Now Poised to Rise.)
BlackRock’s endorsement of the social media giant comes at the same time that some fund managers are cutting or dropping their stakes in the company. Janus Henderson Global Technology Fund portfolio manager Brad Slingerland told the Wall Street Journal that his fund, which has stakes in Facebook, Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), and Google (GOOG), had begun reducing the position in Facebook before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke but sees more pressure on the company as a result. That’s even with the share price 16% lower than February's high. The fund manager isn’t sure the stock has come down enough to reflect the risks to Facebook’s business.