Apple is no longer darling of the hedge funds, according to the latest analysis of December’s 13F filings, and that fact may be what’s pushing the stock lower. Shares of Apple are now less than $450 per share again after a brief recovery from the company’s in-line earnings report.
The latest report from Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) showed that Apple is no longer the “top of the heap” in the list of the 50 stocks which “matter most” to hedge funds. American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG) stole the crown away from Apple, which wore that crown for the past three years. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) came in second, which puts Apple in third.
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One thing investors should note however, is that as of December, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) still topped the list of the stocks that are most popular among hedge funds. There’s a difference between the ones that are the most popular and the ones that are the most important.
As of the end of December, 202 hedge funds owned shares of Apple, according to Goldman Sachs’ analysis. Only 192 of them owned shares of American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG).
The distinction between these two lists is simple. American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG) holds the top spot in the list of the most important stocks in hedge fund land because it has the largest number of funds with the stock listed as one of its top ten holdings.
At the end of the year, 80 funds listed American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG) as being in their top 10 holdings, but only 67 of them listed Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as one of their top 10.
But hedge funds aren’t abandoning the Apple ship completely. It appears as if they are simply reducing their position in the stock. This is somewhat consistent with a wait-and-see approach. Apple still holds a small lead over AIG in the number of funds which owned shares of it in December.
And when we examine the change Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) found in popularity during the fourth quarter of 2012, we see that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)had the third largest negative change in popularity among hedge funds. Twenty-three hedge funds sold entirely out of the stock during the fourth quarter.
AIG, on the other hand, had one of the largest positive changes in popularity. Goldman Sachs found that 31 stocks bought into the stock during the fourth quarter.
Apple hasn’t completely fallen out of favor with the hedge fund, but the stock’s popularity is certainly starting to wane. Next quarter’s 13F filings will be key in showing us what hedge funds are doing with shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) because we’ll be another quarter into this apparent shift away from the stock.