Apple hits record high but leaves some investors in dust

Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:31pm EST
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By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) shares cruised to a record-high close Monday, helping catapult the S&P 500 stock index over the $20 trillion mark in what amounts to a victory for plain-vanilla mutual funds over a bevy of hedge fund managers who recently backed away from the iPhone maker.

The largest component of the S&P 500 and a core holding on Wall Street, Apple's stock climbed 0.9 percent to end at $133.29, above its record high close of $133.00 hit on Feb. 23, 2015 and giving it a market value of about $699 billion.

Its increase helped balloon the S&P 500's .SPX market capitalization on Monday beyond $20 trillion for the first time.

While mutual funds have largely bet on Apple in recent months, some big names missed out on all or part of its recent acceleration.

Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb's Third Point LLC cut its stake in Apple by 26 percent to 1.9 million shares in the fourth quarter, according to regulatory filings, while George Soros and Carl Icahn also shed their Apple shares last year.

In contrast, the number of mutual funds reporting they became Apple shareholders in recent quarterly filings has jumped by 187 percent to 287, while the number of mutual funds liquidating their Apple holdings dropped by 26 percent to 151, according to Morningstar.

Among the big names who backed the stock, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N: Quote) last August said it had increased its stake in Apple by 55 percent to 15 million shares, now worth $2 billion. David Einhorn's hedge fund Greenlight Capital in January said it still likes Apple.

Apple has climbed 50 percent from lows in the first half of last year and is up 15 percent so far in 2017. It was still short of its all-time intraday high of $134.54, set on April 28, 2015.   Continued...

The Apple Inc. store is seen on the day of the new iPhone 7 smartphone launch in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson