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Apple Was Hedge Funds’ Most-Owned Stock Last Quarter, Citi Says

Apple Inc. was the most-held stock among the top 50 hedge funds in the second quarter, while Wells Fargo & Co. and Merck & Co. were the companies most-owned by the biggest equity mutual funds, according to Citigroup Inc.

Cupertino, California-based Apple has held the top position in the hedge-fund category since the third quarter of 2010, Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup’s chief U.S. equity strategist, wrote in a Sept. 6 note. It’s owned by 16 of the 50 largest U.S. hedge funds. Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, and Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck were owned by 17 of the largest 50 mutual funds in the three months ended June 30.

“Apple retains the top spot for both growth and value hedge funds,” Levkovich wrote. “The overlap in top stocks for these two investment styles implies a degree of consensus within the hedge-fund world and possibly a break from some firms’ traditional investment styles.”

The maker of iPods and iPads has outperformed 99 percent of the 500 stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since the start of the third quarter, returning 13 percent from June 30 through yesterday. Technology stocks are the biggest industry held by both mutual funds and hedge funds, accounting for around 30 percent and almost 50 percent of the top portfolio positions, respectively, according to Citigroup.

Wells Fargo was the most-owned stock for value mutual funds, while Google Inc. was the biggest position for growth funds. JPMorgan Chase & Co. was the second-biggest position for hedge funds, behind Apple, Citigroup said. Google performed better than the S&P 500 this quarter through yesterday, advancing 3.1 percent as the index lost 12 percent, while JPMorgan lost 18 percent and Wells Fargo fell 15 percent.

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