Is the Apple Magic Over for Hedge Funds?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been the darling of hedge funds over the past few years, but if latest reports are to be believed, some top funds are in a hurry to get rid of the iPhone maker from their portfolios. Apple’s stock, of course, has been struggling of late, losing almost a third of its value since reaching record-high prices in September.

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“The deterioration in Apple’s performance is one of the contributors to why a number of hedge funds underperformed the S&P 500 since September,” Don Steinbrugge from hedge fund consulting firm Agecroft Partners, told CNNMoney.

While the company is still seeing bullish interest from more than 36 percent of the hedge funds that made 13F filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a flurry of activity has seen several big names dump their stake in the company. Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors got rid of its entire stake of more than 266,000 Apple shares in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the fund’s quarterly disclosure form with the SEC.

On Thursday, it was reported that Farallon Capital, founded by Thomas Steyer, also sold 137,000 Apple shares toward the end of last year. According to Reuters, Jana Partners, an activist fund run by Barry Rosenstein, has also exited Apple, selling 143,000 shares. Both Rosenstein and Cooperman may have exited their positions with substantial profits, according to Reuters, since they bought in at a time when Apple shares traded below $300…

Several others have cut their Apple holdings down by significant percentages. Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management sold about 18 percent of its stake in the company, while Chase Coleman’s Tiger Management cut its stake by 28 percent.

Apple has also faced questions from another famous hedge fund manager, with Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn taking the company to court over its capital allocation practices. Greenlight currently has an Apple stake worth about $600 million. Greenlight reportedly lost nearly 5 percent in the fourth quarter, with Apple being one of the biggest culprits.

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