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Get Schooled in Harvard Fund Management

Harvard Management Co., steward of the Harvard endowment fund, closed the books on another year, as of June 30, and the results are starting to come out. The full report hasn't been released, but according to The Wall Street Journal, the fund rose 8.6%, compared with a 14.8% loss for the S&P 500.

Harvard has posted a comparison of allocations from June 30 and a year earlier. The mix can be easily replicated with ETFs but not necessarily the exact holdings. The following is a breakdown.

Domestic equities: iShares S&P 1500 Index Fund (ISI) is a broad-market product comprising large cap (S&P 500), mid-cap (S&P 400) and small-cap (S&P 600). For better or worse, ISI, or any similar fund, is the U.S. market. Over the last year or so, the U.S. has been in a bear market, so the fund has done poorly. When the next bull starts, the fund will rebound.

Developed foreign equities: WisdomTree DEFA High Yielding Equity (DTH) is a smaller fund than iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund (EFA) but I think DTH is the better mousetrap. EFA has 20% in Japan vs. less than 1% for DTH. DTH is much heavier in financials, 43% vs. 24%, but over the past year, the two have performed about the same, which I believe sets the stage for meaningful outperformance whenever the financial crisis finally ends.

Emerging market equities: SPDR Emerging Markets ETF (GMM) is heavy in all the things that did great on the way up and lousy on the way down, including Brazil, China, and energy and mining stocks. As with ISI, GMM is simply a proxy for the space. Most of the time you want to own these regions of the world but occasionally they go down a lot.

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