Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Look who dumped Apple in Q4

February 15, 2013: 7:33 AM ET

SEC filings show banks and hedge funds selling Apple shares by the millions

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- There was a lot of selling pressure on Apple (AAPL) last quarter, to put it mildly. The stock ended the year down 25% from its September high of $705.07 and has fallen another 12% since then.

Want know where that pressure came from?

The big financial institutions -- banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, pension funds etc. -- that manage more than $100 million in equities were required to tell the Securities and Exchange Commission by the end of day Thursday what they bought and sold -- including their Apple holdings -- between the start of the quarter and the end.

The Form 13-Fs these firms file are a matter of public record, and they can be quite revealing.

The chart above (detailed in the spreadsheet below), for example, shows the institutions that sold at least 1 million shares of Apple last quarter. The top 5:

  • Capital World Investors: Down 4.9 million shares
  • Fidelity Management and Research: Down 4.3 million
  • Capital Research Global Investors: Down 2.9 million
  • Wellington Management: Down 2.3 million
  • Marisco Capital Management: Down 1.9 million

Things get even more interesting when you look at the trading in Apple options. Goldman Sachs, for example, sold 1.2 million shares in Q4. But it also added to its derivative holdings, and at the end of the quarter held $1.9 billion worth of Apple calls and $1.3 billion worth of puts.

That's small change compared with Susquehanna International. It ended the quarter with puts worth $14 billion (up 1.9 million contracts for the quarter) and calls worth $10 billion (up 1 million contracts).

Meanwhile, who was buying Apple while the bears were selling? Three of top five were foreign firms:

  • CitiGroup: Up 1.8 million to reach 7 million shares
  • Commerzbank Aktiengesellschraft (German): Up 1.5 million to reach 2.8 million shares
  • Credit Suisse (Swiss): Up 1.5 million to reach 3.4 million shares
  • Vanguard Group: Up 1.1 million to reach 42 million shares
  • Natixis (French): Up 1 million to reach 1.3 million shares

All this information is availabe for free at the SEC's EDGAR database. There are several commercial sites, however, that present the data in a form that's easier to navigate. I used Whale Wisdom.

If you find anything interesting there, let us know in the comment stream.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had UBS and Morgan Stanley selling all their Apple holdings in Q4. That was based on outdated information. In fact, both firms increased their holdings last quarter.

Below: The information from which the bar graph was drawn.

Source: Form 13-Fs via Whale Wisdom.

Source: Form 13-Fs via Whale Wisdom.

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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

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