Apple Inc.’s share price behavior in 2016 has been a study in Jekyll-and-Hyde contrasts, and its performance the rest of this year could be bitter for the hedge funds that are overweight the equity and sweet for the mutual funds that are underweight the stock. The divergence in opinions about the security is pretty stark, Reuters reported Saturday.
On the one hand, Apple’s equity was among the top 10 holdings of 47 hedge funds at the conclusion of last year, a Goldman Sachs Group report noted this month. On the other hand, the company’s stock is the second-largest underweight holding at mutual funds, meaning they invest less of their portfolios in the firm than its percentage weighting in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, Reuters pointed out.
In terms of their respective positioning in Apple, the hedge funds’ stance appeared wrong and the mutual funds’ stance seemed right the first two months of the year, as the company’s adjusted closing daily share price fell by -$8.00, or -7.64 percent. (During the same period, the average hedge fund shed 3.3 percent, while the average large-capitalization core mutual fund slipped just 0.8 percent, according to Morningstar data cited by Reuters.)
However, the converse has been the case this month, as Apple’s adjusted closing daily share price has risen by $8.98, or 9.29 percent. (Consistent with the S&P 500, the company’s share price overall in 2016 has been flattish, climbing to $105.67 from $104.69, a hike of only 98 cents, or 0.93 percent.)
So managers at both hedge funds and mutual funds have to answer this question about Apple in the foreseeable future: Is its equity likely to be more Jekyll (as it has been in March) or is its stock likely to be more Hyde (as it was in January and February)?
On the hedge fund side, manager Morris Mark, whose Mark Asset Management oversees $500 million in assets, told Reuters he is maintaining a large position in Apple. Mark indicated he believed the iPhone halo effect is alive and well, with the company’s smartphone luring consumers to purchase new home-based products and services. “They’re going to come out with more services layered on top of this incredible franchise, and you are going to see their entire ecosystem grow,” he said.
On the mutual fund side, a manager at a well-known firm who did not want to be identified by Reuters said he had sold all his shares in Apple. “We’ve done very well with this company for a long time, but it’s so large now that it’s becoming impossible for it to move the needle meaningfully” in terms of either gross revenue or net income, he said.
Meanwhile, Jabil Circuit, one of many Apple suppliers, cut its fiscal year 2016 forecast of revenue and income while delivering its latest quarterly financial report March 16. CEO Mark Mondello said, “Our updated outlook for the third quarter reflects reduced demand in mobility,” which some market observers would suggest refers at least in part to the smartphone market in general and the iPhone market in particular. Jabil trimmed its FY 2016 outlooks on revenue to about $18.5 billion from around $20 billion and on core diluted earnings per share to about $2.12 from $2.65. The firm’s move looks consistent with projections of slowing iPhone sales growth.
This is the kind of news fund managers now have to weigh in considering Apple’s share price and who it’s more likely to resemble the rest of this year: Jekyll or Hyde?