Apple 2.0

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The big funds on Apple: Who bought and who sold last quarter

February 18, 2014: 3:55 PM ET

The number of Apple shares held by the funds fell 1.7% in Q4 even as their value rose 18%.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 2.41.52 PM

Source: Whale Wisdom

FORTUNE -- Want to know what the big hedge funds are up to with Apple (AAPL)?

The only public disclosure they are required to file are the SEC Forms 13F due at the end of each quarter.

The 13Fs for the Q4 2013 came in Friday, and according to Whale Wisdom's Daniel Collins, Apple topped the list once again -- both in terms of the number of firms holding the stock and in the value of their holdings.

Apple closed Dec. 31 at 557.68, up 18% for quarter, but the aggregate number of shares held by firms with over $100,000 in management actually fell 1.68% -- perhaps because Apple was in the market buying up its own stock.

Overall, according to Collins' summary:

238 funds created new AAPL positions
772 funds added to an existing AAPL position
72 funds closed their AAPL position
775 funds reduced their AAPL position

The devil, however, is in the details.

Morgan Stanley, for example, bought 1.36 million shares of Apple last quarter -- more than any other fund -- which makes sense given Katy Huberty's "overweight" recommendation and $630 price target.

But J.P. Morgan's Mark Moskowitz also rates Apple "overweight," yet his bank sold nearly 1.7 million shares last quarter.

The picture gets murkier when you throw in options --  the right to buy 100 shares (a "call") or sell 100 shares (a "put").

Citadel Advisors, for example, might pass for an Apple bull based on the 1.05 million shares of the stock it bought last quarter. But in the same quarter Citadel sold 2.1 million calls and bought 83,500 Apple puts -- one a bet that the stock isn't going up anytime soon, the other a bet that it's headed south.

Note also how much of the heavy bearish options trading in Apple last quarter was conducted by firms that seem to have come out of nowhere: Integral Derivatives, Spot Trading, Oz Management, Pine River Capital Management, KCG Holdings, DRW Securities, QCM Cayman, Peak6 Investments, Virtu Financial, Jane Street Holding.

It's a brave new world out there, and largely unregulated.

UPDATE: Below the option spreadsheets I've added, per reader request, the holdings and their value of the four funds with the largest stake in Apple: Vanguard, State Street Bank, Fidelity and Blackrock, in that order.

Source: Whale Wisdom

Source: Whale Wisdom

Source: Whale Wisdom

Source: 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 Fortune.com.

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