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April 7, 2020, 9:45 a.m. EDT

Trump’s personal stake in the malaria-drug maker Sanofi could be as small as $99

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch


Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks during a daily coronavirus briefing at the White House.

As President Donald Trump has persistently discussed the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, critics have wondered about his motivation, given the drug’s far-from-certain performance on the global stage as a treatment for coronavirus, and the Food and Drug Administration’s refusal so far to approve it as a treatment for COVID-19.

The New York Times says Trump has a “small personal stake” in Sanofi, the French drug manufacturer that produces the drug.

The report doesn’t say how small, but it notes that his three family trusts have investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund whose largest holding is Sanofi. A fund that matches this description is the Dodge & Cox International Stock Fund /zigman2/quotes/207409772/realtime DODFX +1.04% , which at last check was 3.3% invested in Sanofi.

Trump’s 2019 financial-disclosure form lists stakes in Family Trusts 1, 2 and 3 valued at between $1,001 and $15,000. So if Trump has the maximum $15,000 in each of the trusts, he holds a stake in Sanofi that’s worth $1,485 — and, at the minimum, just $99.

It turns out he does look to have more than that modest sum invested in Sanofi, because, unmentioned in the Times report, his trusts also hold broader European stock-market index funds.

The iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF /zigman2/quotes/205252932/composite IEFA +0.55%  has 0.67% of its holdings in Sanofi, and Sanofi is a 0.78% holding for the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF /zigman2/quotes/207663730/composite EFA +0.55% , which is neither surprising nor notable, in that the French drug maker is so large.

And Trump has a small stake in basically every big company you can think of.

In each of the trusts, the biggest fund holding is just the broader SPDR S&P 500 ETF /zigman2/quotes/209901640/composite SPY +0.39% , in which Trump holds between $200,000 and $450,000, according to his financial-disclosure forms.

So one could say Trump has $22,000 or so invested in Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT -1.50% , and nearly as much in Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.67% .

Another point worth making is how little the malaria drug means to Sanofi’s bottom line. In 2019, what the company calls Plaquenil wasn’t even broken out by name in the company’s financial accounts, while 33 other medications were.

That is hardly surprising as the drug has been around since the 1950s and is available generically.

A host of other companies are making the medication, including Amneal Pharmaceuticals /zigman2/quotes/209301288/composite AMRX -1.06% , Mylan /zigman2/quotes/209413137/composite MYL -0.24%  and Teva Pharmaceutical /zigman2/quotes/205657894/composite TEVA -3.20% .

Read on: There’s scant evidence so far for chloroquine as a COVID-19 drug — but there’s already a shortage

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Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch markets editor for Europe. Follow him on Twitter: @MKTWgoldstein.

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