In a ‘Breaking News’ story, CNBC reported that billionaire activist Carl Icahn has dumped his position in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The investor did not disclose the changes in a regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, but announced the move during his intervention at CNBC’s Power Lunch. According to Icahn Capital’s last 13F filing, the fund held around 45.76 million shares of Apple, worth $4.82 billion at the end of December. The stake was its second-largest and amassed over 16% of the equity portfolio.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s stock had been under pressure amid concerns that the company’s iPhone sales might have been lagging and the company would report lower-than-expected results. On Tuesday evening the company materialized investors’ fears by posting second fiscal quarter earnings of $1.90 per share on revenue of $50.60 million, missing EPS estimates by $0.10 and revenue estimates by $1.37 billion. Even though Apple sold 51.2 million iPhones, which was slightly higher than expected, the figure fell by 16% in annual terms. Apple announced an increase in its buyback program to $175 billion and raised its dividend by 10% to $0.57 per share, but this didn’t help the stock, which lost around 6% on Wednesday.
Icahn’s move to unload the stock is interesting since he had been one of the company’s biggest bulls, having said on several occasions that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was his favorite company. In fact, last year, he said that he preferred to buy more shares when the stock declined.
So what changed? As Icahn said while on the phone with CNBC, his main concern regarding Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is “China’s attitude”. The investor considers that the Chinese government might create barriers for Apple to sell its products there. However, if China becomes more “steady” he would re-initiated a position.
At the end of 2016, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was one of the most popular stocks among the funds in our database, with 133 funds holding $17.72 billion worth of stock. With Icahn out, Apple still has some notable shareholders, such as billionaire Ken Fisher’s Fisher Asset Management, which owns 11.31 million shares worth $1.24 billion as of the end of the March quarter.