Here is the list of the Swiss National Bank’s top 50 US stock holdings, and how much of each it dumped.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
What the Swiss National Bank had been doing was unique among the money-printer central banks: It created its own currency, as other money-printers did, but then it didn’t buy bonds or equities in its own currency, but instead used the Swiss francs to buy foreign currency, largely euros and dollars, and with that foreign currency it bought stocks and bonds denominated in those foreign currencies. In effect, it didn’t do QE in Switzerland over those years, but QE in other countries – ostensibly to keep the Swiss franc from rising against other currencies, primarily the euro and the dollar.
But this show created 132 billion Swiss francs in losses in 2022, the SNB disclosed earlier this year, the biggest annual loss in its history, amid falling prices of its stocks and bonds and big shifts in exchange rates.
The total amount of “Foreign currency investments” on its balance sheet, including its US stock holdings, by the end of December 2022 plunged by 176 billion CHF, or 18%, from the peak in February 2022 to CHF 801 billion, the lowest since October 2019 and just a hair above December 2017:
At the peak in February 2022, its foreign currency investments amounted to CHF 977 billion ($1.06 trillion at today’s exchange rate), or roughly 130% of Switzerland’s GDP!
The drop in value of its foreign currency investments came amid declines in asset prices and big shifts in exchange rates. The SNB marks its foreign currency investments to market. Its foreign-currency bond holdings are not designed to be “held to maturity,” but are held for sale as part of its currency manipulation scheme, and stocks have to be marked to market anyway.
But don’t worry: The SNB, like any central bank that creates its own money, cannot run out of money and “go bankrupt,” or whatever, no matter how much money it loses.
The SNB’s Top 50 US Stocks on the chopping block.
Over the years, the SNB bought the good, the bad, and the ugly. Countless stocks imploded in its portfolio. Many others thrived.
In its new Form 13-F filings for Q4 with the SEC, the SNB disclosed that it held 2,687 stocks, down some 80 stocks from the prior quarter, as it closed out dozens of positions, some of which were stocks whose prices had gone to zero or near zero.
Of its top 50 stocks, in Q4, the SNB reduced its holdings of every single one of them. It had started cutting its top 50 holdings in Q2. In Q3, it had reduced its holdings of 42 of the top 50. Now it’s all of them.
Top 50 holdings at the end of Q4:
- Combined value: $65 billion
- From Q3: -4.5%
- From Q2: -10.2%
- Year-over-year: -17.3%
- Share count from Q3: -6.4%.
The SNB had started unloading its holdings of some stocks in Q2 already, such as Apple, Meta, Alphabet, and a bunch of others. For these stocks, Q4 marked the third quarter in a row of selling.
Apple on the chopping block: Apple has been its #1 holding. Since the peak of its Apple holdings in Q1 2022, the SNB has dumped 5.7 million shares, or 8.1%, and is now down to 65.3 million shares.
Tesla got cut for the first time. In Q3, the SNB had still added to its Tesla holdings. But in Q4 it dumped 623,902 shares, bringing its stake down to 10.8 million shares.
|Top 50 Holdings||As of December 31, 2022||Change in share count since:|
|Value, $ Million||Share Count||Q3 2022||Q2, 2022|
|JOHNSON & JOHNSON||1,888||10,685,700||-718,116||-719,716|
|PROCTER AND GAMBLE||1,469||9,694,590||-703,383||-703,583|
|MERCK & CO||1,142||10,295,951||-663,281||-668,981|
|THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC||877||1,592,400||-104,127||-104,527|
|UNITED PARCEL SERVICE||517||2,974,400||-208,418||-203,318|
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