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.
Until recently, takeover bids were rare in Japan, where private equity and hedge funds have been traditionally viewed as vultures.
By Michael Fitzpatrick
FORTUNE -- Sony's best selling TV, the Bravia, translates as "ferocious, savage, wild, untamed" -- the very adjectives that are probably on the minds of Sony executives as they consider the latest bid from gaijin, or outsiders, to upset the highly ordered decorum of doing business in Japan.
The MOREMay 16, 2013 7:37 AM ET
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FORTUNE -- In the late 1990s, an ad agency creative director I'll call Joe Smith bought several hundred shares of Apple (AAPL) at $60 apiece. Last fall, at age 42, he found himself out of work and increasingly dependent on the value of those shares to make ends meet.
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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?
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The insider trader who pled guilty Tuesday leaked details about the iPhone 4 and the iPad
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On Thursday morning, BAM Investor's J.G. Savoldi used the microblogging service (and a follow-up press release) to warn investors that Apple (AAPL) was about to crash and could hit $45 a share -- perhaps as early as this MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 19, 2010 6:52 AM ET
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