Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) closed down 3.38 percent at $428.85 Wednesday, falling below its 50-day moving average for the first time in close to a month. The fact that shares fell below this psychologically important level for the second time in less than a month, the stock hit a new 52-week low, and the company reported its first quarter-over-quarter earnings decline in a decade all in the same four-week span has made investors nervous.
A recent regulatory filing showed that the billionaire manager of the Appaloosa Management hedge fund, David Tepper, reduced his stake in Apple by 41 percent in the first quarter of this year. During the 3-month period that ended March 31, Appaloosa unloaded 372,661 shares, leaving the hedge fund with a total of 540,000 Apple shares worth approximately $239 million.
And Tepper is not the only big-time Apple investor who has dumped shares recently. Well-known hedge-fund manager Julian Robertson dumped his firm’s entire stake in Apple during the first three months of this year; a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed that his Tiger Management’s investment portfolio did not hold any Apple shares as of the end of March. His actions closed a position that had been dwindling for more than six months.
At the end of the fourth quarter, Tiger Management’s Apple stake comprised 42,215 shares, valued at $22.4 million at that time. This represented a decrease from the number of share the firm held at the end of the third quarter, when Apple’s stock began sliding from its record high of $705 per share. At the end of September, Tiger had accumulated 100,930 shares, which were then valued at about $67 million.
These sell-offs by key investors bodes trouble for the iPhone maker, and Apple watchers will likely factor in both Tepper’s and Robertson’s change of position in their assessments of the company. But there are still several investors, George Soros and Warren Buffett among them, who have yet to reveal their holdings. The deadline for the submission of 13F reports was Wednesday night.
Still, while Apple has come under a great deal of scrutiny over the past several months and big-time investors have begun decreasing their holdings, according to brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, more of its clients now own Apple than ever before. “Apple has always been a big favorite among clients, and in particular a darling of traders,” but value investors have recently taken notice, said Nicole Sherrod, managing director of TD Ameritrade’s Trader Group, according to CNN.
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