Insider Monkey tracks nearly 400 hedge funds and prominent investors like Warren Buffett. Last week hedge funds disclosed their 13F holdings and we finished compiling and analyzing the data. At the end of 2011 Apple (AAPL) was the most popular stock among hedge funds, followed by Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT). Apple returned 38.6% since the end of last year. Google lost 4.9% and Microsoft returned 16.1%. On average these three stocks returned 16.6% vs. a gain of 5.6% for the S&P 500 ETF (SPY). During the first quarter the number of hedge funds with Apple, Google, and Microsoft positions kept going up. These three stocks are still the top three holdings in our hedge fund universe. Here are the 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds:
1. Apple (AAPL): The number of hedge funds with Apple positions increased to 134 from 130 at the end of 2011. Billionaires Ken Griffin and David E. Shaw had the largest positions in the stock at the end of March.
2. Google (GOOG): There were 115 hedge funds with Google positions vs. 110 at the end of previous quarter. Billionaire Stephen Mandel had $838 million invested in Google.
3. Microsoft (MSFT): David Einhorn cut his stake in Microsoft but hedge funds in general poured more money into Microsoft. The number of hedge funds with Microsoft positions increased from 99 to 103 at the end of March. Boykin Curry had $700 million invested in the stock.
4. Citigroup (C): There were 97 hedge funds with Citigroup positions at the end of March, vs. 95 in December. Bill Ackman had $955 million invested in this financial giant.
5. Bank of America (BAC): Bank of America isn't as popular as Citigroup but there were still 87 hedge funds with bullish Citigroup bets. Bruce Berkowitz is the most bullish fund manager with a nearly $1 billion position in the stock.
6. General Motors (GM): Who would have guessed that General Motors is one of the most popular stocks among hedge funds. Even Warren Buffett's Berkshire initiated a position in the stock during the first quarter. Overall, there were 82 hedge funds with total investment of $3 billion in the stock. Billioanire David Einhorn had $379 million in the stock.
7. Wells Fargo (WFC): Warren Buffett was adding to his already gigantic holdings in WFC during the first quarter. There were 81 hedge funds (up from 70 at the end of December) in Wells Fargo at the end of March.
8. JP Morgan (JPM): JP Morgan was the only stock in our top 10 that showed a decline in hedge fund interest. At the end of March there were 78 hedge funds with JPM positions. This number stood at 81 at the end of December. Matthew Halbower, Jeffrey Tannenbaum, Jim Simons, and Eric Mindich are the fund managers who sold out of JP Morgan before the banks trading losses were revealed.
9.Qualcomm (QCOM): Qualcomm saw a jump in hedge fund interest during the quarter. There were 78 hedge funds with Qualcomm positions at the end of March, vs. 66 at the end of 2011. Billionaire Ken Fisher had nearly $400 million invested in QCOM.
10. Pfizer (PFE): Pfizer is the only healthcare stock in this list. There were 74 hedge funds with Pfizer positions vs. 72 at the end of 2011.