Could FAANG be on its way toward becoming FANG once again? 13F reports from top hedge funds across the country show that money managers sold off shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL) at an astonishing rate in the first few months of the year. According to Bloomberg News, hedge funds reduced their holdings in AAPL stock by about 153 million shares across the first quarter of 2018.
This marks the single-most significant decrease in AAPL holdings since the beginning of 2008, the point in time at which Bloomberg began to track this data. This also makes AAPL the most-sold stock of any within the S&P 500 for the first quarter. Nonetheless, there was at least one major investor who has already proven to be an outlier: Warren Buffett not only didn't sell but in fact increased his position in the iPhone maker in the first three months of the year.
Investors at firms submitting 13F filings with the SEC have sold off shares of Apple's stock for three of the past four quarters. The exception was the fourth quarter of 2017, a period that saw this group of money managers buying a net 8.6 million shares of the company. At this point, Apple stock is up by roughly 10% since the beginning of the year. At the same time, though, analysts and investors of all kinds have speculated that the company may not be able to sustain the pace of its iPhone sales going into the future. Investor skittishness may have prompted the major sell-offs, which have taken place over the past several quarters.
Buffett Bucks the Trend
Warren Buffett, the billionaire investment guru and head of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A), has never been one to follow the herd. Indeed, much of his success can be credited at least in part to his willingness to make investment decisions that are not necessarily broadly popular at the time. While his reasoning is not yet clear, Berkshire's head bought up 75 million additional shares of Apple during the first quarter of the year. With those purchases, he became the company's third-largest investor.
Hedge funds and other institutional investors tended to increase their positions in the other FAANG stocks over the same period, or else they trimmed them only slightly. Other major stocks that saw positions trimmed by many hedge funds include Bank of America Inc. (BAC), which declined by a net 135 million shares in portfolios across the quarter. Citigroup Inc. (C) dropped by roughly 67 million shares, while Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) declined by 46 million shares in portfolios during the period. On the other hand, emerging market funds like iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) were big winners in the first part of the year.