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Apple Leaves Some Investors In Dust But Hits Record High

Apple Leaves Some Investors In Dust But Hits Record High
In what amounts to a victory for plain-vanilla mutual funds over a bevy of hedge fund managers who recently backed away from the iPhone maker, Apple shares cruised to a record-high close Monday, helping catapult the S&P 500 stock index over the $20 trillion mark.
Giving it a market value of about $699 billion and marking above its record high close of $133.00 hit on Feb. 23, 2015, Apple's stock climbed 0.9 percent to end at $133.29 as the largest component of the S&P 500 and a core holding on Wall Street.
For the first time, S&P 500's market capitalization on Monday was helped to reach beyond $20 trillion by its increase.
Some big names missed out on all or part of its recent acceleration while mutual funds have largely bet on Apple in recent months.
According to regulatory filings, while George Soros and Carl Icahn also shed their Apple shares last year, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb's Third Point LLC cut its stake in Apple by 26 percent to 1.9 million shares in the fourth quarter.
And according to Morningstar, while the number of mutual funds liquidating their Apple holdings dropped by 26 percent to 151, the number of mutual funds reporting they became Apple shareholders in recent quarterly filings has jumped by 187 percent to 287 in contrast.
It had increased its stake in Apple by 55 percent to 15 million shares, now worth $2 billion, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway last August said and it was among the big names who backed the stock. It still likes Apple said David Einhorn's hedge fund Greenlight Capital in January.
Apple is up 15 percent so far in 2017 and has climbed 50 percent from lows in the first half of last year.
Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski raised her price target for Apple to $150 which has resulted in Monday's gain. Demand in a saturated smartphone market would be boosted by augmented-reality technology that she hopes that will feature in an upcoming 10th anniversary iPhone, she said and added that she was confident of this.
Apple will mark the iPhone's 10th anniversary with a dramatically improved model, many investors are betting. A larger-than-normal base of customers ready to upgrade has been left by strong sales of the iPhone 6S two years ago, they also believe.
Wall Street expects revenue to grow this year after sinking nearly 8 percent in fiscal 2016, although it gave a cautious outlook for the current quarter, and the Cupertino, California company reported strong December-quarter results on Jan. 31.
Apple accounted for just under 0.06 percent of the index when the S&P 500 closed above $10 trillion for the first time in 1998. According to S&P Dow Jones Indices, it now accounts for about 3.5 percent of the S&P 500.
The largest gap between such milestones since the iPhone's launch is represented by the 721 days that have passed since Apple's previous record-high close.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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