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These Insiders Were Selling Apple Inc. (AAPL)…They Were Right

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had few critics six months ago, when its stock price had eclipsed $700 a share, and some analysts were calling for $1,000-price targets. Still, when Cupertino’s shares were at an all-time high, there were a select few bears that had voiced their concerns, only to be ridiculed by the masses. Jeff Gundlach, CEO of Doubleline Capital, was one of these pessimists, and we also considered the possibility that Apple had “lost its way” on MarketWatch‘s Trading Deck.

Should this Concern Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc (GOOG)?

Among the factors we considered essential to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s future, the most important seemed to be: (1) Tim Cook’s ability to maintain the path that Steve Jobs laid, (2) the decision to include a shoddy Apple Maps app may indicate future issues, (3) the choice to release the iPad Mini may signal a shortage of innovative products, (4) the inability of Apple to maintain the so-called “Steve Jobs Rules” (read more here), and (5) a book value premium to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), at least back when we pointed it out in September.

Obviously, each of these points are up for debate, but it’s worth pointing out that there were a few insiders–hedge funds and corporate executives–who were selling shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) before the stock witnessed its mammoth decline.

Which insiders had the foresight to sell?

Using form 4 filings from the SEC, which we track, we can see that only one unique insider has been buying over the past six months. Typically, we focus on the past 90 or 180-day periods, which have historically been the best time frames to pay attention to, empirically speaking (see more details).

Over the past half-year, though, six unique insiders have sold shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), including: H. Eduardo Cue, L. Robert Mansfield, J. Daniel Riccio, Bruce D. Sewell, D. Arthur Levinson, and E. Jeffrey Williams. Levinson is a Director at Apple as well as Google, and the remaining insiders are officers.

Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President, sold off 15,000 shares last November at an average price of $583.99 a piece, and Mansfield, another Senior VP, sold 35,000 shares at a similar price around this time.

Riccio, a third Senior VP, sold more than 25,000 shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock in nine separate November transactions, and since these moves, he has avoided a 14% declination in stock price. Williams, meanwhile, who is a fourth Senior VP, sold off fewer shares than the trio mentioned above, but made his decision in October, when AAPL was trading above the $630 mark.

What about hedge funds?

Clearly, there are many reasons why a corporate executive would choose to sell shares of his or her company, which makes it difficult to determine exactly when insider sales should actually be taken as a bearish indicator. Still, it’s worth noting that plenty of hedge funds were also selling out of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the fourth quarter, including Thomas Steyer’s Farallon Capital, Mark A. Nordlicht’s Platinum Management, Richard Schimel’s Diamondback Capital, Sean Cullinan’s Point State Capital, and Israel Englander’s Catapult Capital Management, which is a subsidiary of Millennium Management.

A few more noteworthy names cutting their entire stakes of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) at the end of the year include Roberto Mignone’s Bridger Management, Stephen Mandel’s Lone Pine Capital, Dan Loeb’s Third Point, Andreas Halvorsen’s Viking Global, Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors and Patrick Mccormack’s Tiger Consumer Management.

The full list of hedge funds’ sentiment toward Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) can be seen on the company’s profile page, and it’s important to note that aggregately speaking, interest fell significantly last quarter (see just how much here).

As always, it’s important to pay attention to what hedge funds and insiders are doing with a stock, and many members of the “smart money” have been extremely right about Apple over the past few months.

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