Stanford won’t invest in coal companies

Stanford University has announced that its rich endowment will not make any direct investment in coal companies, becoming the 12th and most prestigious university to divest under pressure from foes of fossil fuels.

“Moving away from coal in the investment context is a small but constructive step while work continues at Stanford and elsewhere to develop broadly viable sustainable energy solutions for the future,” Stanford President John Hennessy said in a statement.

Stanford doesn’t disclose its holdings. As of Aug. 31, 2013, its endowment was worth $18.7 billion.

Stanford’s move comes after protests last week by climate activists at other leading universities. Seven students at Washington University in St. Louis were arrested after demanding that Gregory H. Boyce, chief executive of Peabody Energy, resign from the university’s board of trustees, and a student was arrested at Harvard University after a half-dozen students tried to blockade the office of Harvard President Drew Faust.

Bill McKibben, founder of the anti-global warming Web site, said in a statement, “Stanford, on the edge of Silicon Valley, is at the forefront of the 21st century economy; it’s very fitting, then, that they’ve chosen to cut their ties to the 18th century technology of digging up black rocks and burning them.”

Stanford has also been pressed from within; its board of trustees includes Tom Steyer, a wealthy former hedge fund head who has devoted himself to promoting policies that might slow climate change.

— Steven Mufson

Twitter’s shares plummet 18 percent

Shares of Twitter sank nearly 18 percent to a new low for the year in frenzied trading Tuesday as early investors sold stock in the micro­blogging service for the first time after a six-month “lock-up” expired. The company lost more than $4 billion of its market value.

The stock closed at $31.85. On a consolidated basis, more than 130 million shares changed hands — 10 times the daily average volume for the last 50 days.

The lock-up agreement that expired this week applied to about 470 million shares, or 82 percent of Twitter’s equity, held by insiders, venture capitalists and other investors. Twitter allowed one batch of shares to be sold in February, but that lockup governed only about 10 million shares, most of which were held by non-executive employees.

Twitter’s shares have been trading at all-time lows since April 29, when the company disclosed sagging usage metrics. Concerns about user growth and engagement levels have wiped out about half of Twitter’s market value, more than $18 billion, since late December, even though the company has hit revenue targets in the two quarters since it went public at $26 a share.

— Reuters

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