Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is one of the most loved stocks in the hedge fund universe, and despite its epic decline beginning last fall, Cupertino was still the second most popular company among the smart money’s best investors heading into 2013. It’s too early to gather aggregate data on where Apple ranks after the first quarter, but we do know of a few big-time investors that have been very, very mixed on the stock.
Earlier today, we discussed how Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was loved by Ken Fisher in Q1, but hated by Appaloosa Management manager David Tepper, and loathed by the legendary Julian Robertson, of Tiger Management. Robertson has spawned dozens of so-called “Tiger cub” funds throughout the years, but it’s one younger, non ex-Tiger hedge fund manager that may be the most widely covered Apple investor.
Hint: many call him a “rock star.”
Of course we’re talking about David Einhorn, the manager of Greenlight Capital, one of the most successful hedge funds in operation today, and a very prominent Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) bull. As we’ve discussed here, Einhorn and Greenlight’s “market beta is around 0.5, meaning if they didn’t have any stock picking skill, they would have returned about half of the market’s return.”
Einhorn has made many headlines over the past few months in his quest to unlock more shareholder value at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), and while he disclosed that he upped his stake to the media last week, he didn’t say by how much.
While the nature of 13F filings are such that we’ll never know the exact timing of Einhorn’s move, we do know the specifics now: he increased his holdings of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) by 83% in the first quarter, and owned just under 2.4 million shares at the end of March. This is a major increase from the 1.3 million-share position Einhorn held heading into this year, and it comes in the face of a 19.4% decline in Apple’s stock price year-to-date.
In terms of market value, the stake is now worth $1.02 billion as of today’s closing price of $428.85, assuming Einhorn hasn’t added to his stake since March 31st. At the end of 2012, Einhorn’s Apple position was worth $695 million.
If none of Einhorn’s closest peers–D. E. Shaw, Phill Gross and Robert Atchinson, or Ken Griffin–made giant moves in the first quarter (we’ll know by the end of the week), it can be surmised that he’s now the only billion-dollar investor in Apple. With a market cap in excess of $400 billion, this level doesn’t represent a significant percentage of Apple’s stock, but it’s an important milestone to track nonetheless.
We’ll have more updates for you as 13F filings continue to come in, and don’t forget to discover the secrets of hedge fund piggybacking here, if you’re ever curious how many investors have generated market outperformance in the past.