Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Meet one of the guys tugging on the Apple slingshot

October 8, 2012: 1:47 PM ET

Doug Kass is happy to report that Apple has dropped $50 since he started trashing it

FORTUNE -- In the weeks before Apple (AAPL) releases its quarterly earnings we like to keep an eye out for what Jason Schwarz, in his classic Apple: Seven Reasons Shorts Love It, called the Apple slingshot:

"If you can keep a good stock down then you are able to load up for the ride back up," he wrote. "It's like a slingshot -- the harder you pull, the more propulsion you generate."

It's a phenomenon we've noted many times before, most recently in April when the stock fell $89 (13.8%) in the two weeks leading up to the company's second quarter earnings report -- shaking a lot of nervous investors out of their holdings -- only to shoot up more than $60 the next day. (See The Apple slingshot released: $57 billion in one clock tick.)

What we hadn't seen before was a hedge fund manager stepping forward to take some of the credit for pulling on the slingshot in the first place.

Kass on CNBC

Enter Doug Kass, founder and president of Seabreeze Partners and a frequent guest on CNBC. Kass has been bad-mouthing Apple almost daily since Sept. 24 when he made The Bear Case for Apple in 10 bullet points on TheStreet.com. Called to task Saturday by Barrons' Tiernan Ray for referring to the iPhone 5 as "a toy," Kass used a letter to Barrons to rattle off eight more points, including this one:

3. Apple's shares have dropped by $50 since my original analysis was published on TheStreet and RealMoneyPro. This has occurred in a generally upward trending market. In other words so far I have been correct on the stock.

And there you have it. A guy running a hedge fund, having taken who knows what position in a high-profile security, trashes it on TV, on the Web and in e-mails to clients shortly before what are almost certainly going to be record quarterly earnings, and then when the shares lose some value, brags that he's been "correct on the stock."

The thing about Kass, as Bullish Cross' Andy Zaky pointed out last week, is that he's a serial Apple basher. He was urging investors to sell the stock when it was trading at $90 a share, at $130 a share, at $380 a share and again last February when it was in the low $500s.

As Schwarz warned his Economic Weather Station readers Friday: "Just when the average investor cracks, the hedge funds will load up their portfolios." If you're an average investor, you would be well advised to ignore guys like Kass.

Apple is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth quarter earnings on Oct. 25.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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