4 Hedge Funds Heavily Invested in Apple’s Fate

There are more than 8,000 hedge funds in existence today, and of this group, we at Insider Monkey track close to 600 of the best and brightest. The best picks of the best hedge fund managers have market-beating potential (see how we returned 47.6% in one year), and within this group, there are many ways to parse the data.

Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS)

This week, we’ve covered some important tech topics in particular, like why Warren Buffett probably won’t buy Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and the peculiarities of Longbow Securities’ moves in NQ Mobile Inc (ADR) (NYSE:NQ). One subject that has been flying under the radar, though, is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and the hedge funds that surround it.

According to one Apple news site, the tech giant’s latest earnings release has been met with mostly optimism on Wall Street, especially from JPMorgan’s Mark Moskowitz. Moskowitz expects Apple’s current share price to hit $600 by December of 2014, primarily based on strong iPhone sales, the iPad’s potential in future quarters, and gross margins that are “good enough for long-term investors.”

With that in mind, we thought it’d be useful to run through the hedge fund managers that have stayed committed to Apple over the long run. Here are the four biggest bulls that have held the stock for at least two years:

David Einhorn

David Einhorn first bought Apple in the second quarter of 2010 and in the three years since, the manager of Greenlight Capital has upped his stake by nearly eightfold. While Tim Cook and the rest of Apple’s leadership didn’t adopt Einhorn’s iPref idea, his latest Q3 shareholder letter reveals he’ll likely remain bullish here for the “longer-term.”

David Shaw

Another billionaire, David E. Shaw, has held shares of Apple for the better part of the last decade. The manager of D.E. Shaw & Co doubled his exposure to the stock in the last round of 13F filings, and it actually represents the largest long-only holding in his entire equity portfolio. Shaw and Einhorn have the two largest Apple stakes of the funds we track, both of which represent nearly $1 billion in market value apiece.

Philippe Laffont

Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management, meanwhile, has been a major Apple investor since the fourth quarter of 2004. Laffont founded his tech-focused hedge fund in 1999 after working for the legendary Julian Robertson, and Apple was his top stock pick for all of 2011 and most of 2012 before he slashed over half of his stake in the fourth quarter.

The fund manager now owns over $600 million in Apple stock and has recouped all of the shares he sold at the end of last year. While we don’t know exactly when Laffont cut his stake in 2012, it’s evident that he avoided much of the swoon that plagued investors who stuck with their gut, and actually bought back when shares were cheaper.

Ken Fisher

Although he’s technically not a hedge fund manager, Ken Fisher is a prominent investor worth tracking. Fisher Asset Management oversees nearly $40 billion in equity investments alone, and while it has been a long-term shareholder of Apple, the firm has only recently upped its stake to significant levels. At the halfway point of 2012, Fisher held $50 million worth of Apple stock; today, that number is more than $600 million.

It’s no secret that Fisher likes growth stocks that also trade at reasonable valuations, so we can understand why he’s bullish here. Apple trades at a PEG ratio near 0.9, and the sell-side still expects it to generate earnings growth of 15% a year over the next half-decade. That forecast trumps peers like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and it’s cheaper than both.

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