Why did Apple close Friday at record high $522.41 a share ...February 24, 2012: 6:18 PM ET
When Tim Cook's failure to announce a dividend was supposed to send it tumbling?
If you spent part of Thursday afternoon, as I did, monitoring the $AAPL tweets, you know that Apple's (AAPL) share price was supposed to go into free fall the moment traders found out that the company was not going to announce a dividend, buyback or stock split at its annual stockholders meeting.
Shares did begin to tumble at 1:34 p.m., causing some to speculate that the bad news had somehow leaked out of the closed door meeting.
But the stock soon bounced back, and although CEO Tim Cook made it abundantly clear that there would be no dividend announcement that day, it kept rising to close at $516.39, a record high. On Friday it shot up another $6 to close at $522.41 -- its fourth record high of the week.
It didn't hurt that J.P. Morgan's Mike Moskowitz issued an extraordinarily bullish note Friday morning, describing Apple as a serial disruptor in a "league of its own" with "plenty more upside potential."
But that didn't explain Thursday's action.
For that we turn to Jason Schwarz, the man who first described Apple as the hedge funds' favorite toy:
"If you can keep a good stock down," he wrote in a 2009 piece entitled Apple: Seven Reasons Shorts Love It, "then you are able to load up for the ride back up. It's like a slingshot -- the harder you pull, the more propulsion you generate."
Returning to the theme Friday, he wrote in Seeking Alpha that Thursday's meeting was a perfect opportunity for the shorts to take another ride on the Apple slingshot. "Now more than ever, if they can manufacture an Apple dip, it would leverage control over the broad market."
"Did the hedge funds decide to take the year off?" he wonders. "Perhaps they did. Perhaps they view 2012 as the beginning of the Apple Apex, a time period marking the end of p/e contraction and the prime of the Apple growth story. Without the extracurricular negative headwinds from Europe or the U.S. economy there is little ammunition to justify large Apple corrections. Maybe the money managers decided it was a losers game."
We can only hope.