Princeton University disclosed that it owned a large stake in an early-stage lithium miner.
In fact, Princeton’s holdings of 2.4 million shares of
(ticker: LAC) make it the fourth-largest investor in the Vancouver-based company. Princeton disclosed the holdings in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.Princeton University Investment Company, which manages the school’s $38 billion endowment, didn’t respond to a request for comment. It’s not clear if the university bought the shares or if they were donated, or if the shares are owned by the endowment.
Lithium America declined to comment on Princeton’s position, but noted that a fund managed by Chairman George Ireland “was recently wound up in Q1 as per a long established plan. Cash and certain portfolio positions were distributed to fund investors in accordance with industry standard practices.” The company added that Ireland “has not sold any of his Lithium Americas shares in any of his personal accounts related to this portfolio change.”
Shares are volatile. Lithium Americas stock was hot in the first quarter, surging 32% while the
S&P 500 index
slipped 5%. So far in the second, however, shares have plunged 41% while the index is down 11%.
In February, J.P. Morgan analyst Tyler Langton wrote that Lithium Americas “has numerous catalysts ahead of it that should be positives for its stock,” which he rated at Overweight with a $42 price target. The “stock price largely followed the steady increase in lithium prices in [second half 2021], but they have decoupled more recently,” Langton wrote. Lithium is a key component in lithium-ion batteries, which is seeing growing demand as production of electric vehicles grows around the world.
“[T]he overall value of [Lithium Americas’ Nevada mining project] Thacker Pass has continued to increase with growing EV demand, and rising lithium prices, and [we] would expect an agreement with a strategic partner/customer and the feasibility study to be positive catalysts for Lithium Americas,” the analyst wrote.
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.