Princeton Records Strong Endowment Investment Gains

The Tigers top the Crimson (not to mention the Elis and the Cardinal).

Princeton this afternoon reported that its endowment investments had realized a 14.7 percent return in the fiscal year 2010 ended June 30. Among the universities with large, highly diversified portfolios, this is an exceptionally strong result,  besting Stanford's 14.4 percent return, Harvard Management Company's 11 percent investment return, and Yale's 8.9 percent.

Princeton's endowment ended the year valued at $14.4 billion, a 14.3 percent gain from the $12.6 billion value at the end of fiscal 2009—likely the strongest absolute growth among peer institutions with similar investment portfolios. In a show of financial strength during fiscal 2009, Princeton was able to operate without taking any endowment distribution, and was apparently able to manage through the worst chaos in the financial markets while planning asset sales and covering its liquidity needs in a measured way. It may now be reaping the benefits of that financial strength and flexibility—and it is well along in a $1.75-billion fundraising campaign; the university's news release does not provide further details.

In contrast, after endowment distributions for operations, Harvard's 11 percent investment gain for fiscal 2010 translated into a 5.4 percent growth in the value of the endowment. Harvard's endowment is some $9.3 billion, or 25 percent, below its peak value of $36.9 billion in fiscal 208; Princeton's endowment is now some $1.9 billion, or 12 percent, below its $16.3 billion peak in fiscal 2008.

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