The Gates Foundation Asset Trust, which manages the assets of the $42.3 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has sold its holdings of Coca-Cola stock and added UPS to its portfolio, according to a Bloomberg report, citing filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The report said the trust, formed by the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, sold 21.4 million shares of Coke stock valued at $912.2 million in the fourth quarter. The trust purchased 4.5 million shares of UPS valued at $503.1 million. Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta and UPS is based in Sandy Springs.
Metro Atlanta and Georgia entities have benefited from grants from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the years, including the Georgia Department of Education, Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia Chamber of Commerce Foundation Inc., Georgia Tech Research Corp., the University of Georgia and the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society.
A spokesman for the Gates trust reportedly did not provide a reason for the change in investment strategy. Coca-Cola declined to comment.
Coca-Cola recently reported that its fourth-quarter profit fell 55 percent from the year-ago period. The company said 2015 will be a transition year and initiatives to strengthen its business will take time to materialize. Tuesday on Wall Street, Coke’is stock closed down 18 cents, at $41.81.
UPS closed up 72 cents at $102.51. The package delivery company, which recently increased its dividend, also reported disappointing fourth-quarter results, blaming increased costs to beef up operations for the holiday season delivery rush.
The Gates trust also sold off its McDonald’s Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. holdings, according to the Bloomberg report. The 10.9 million McDonald’s shares were valued at $1 billion and the 8.1 million Exxon Mobil shares were valued at $765.9 million.
The Gates trust, which also includes gifts from billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is managed by a team of outside investment managers. Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway, which is a major Coke investor, is a former Coca-Cola director. His son, Howard Buffett, now serves on the board.