The technology sector gets a lot of attention from hedge funds, mostly because it seems like everyone wants to own shares of Apple (AAPL - Get Report). The truth, though, is that the sector has performed admirably this year and should do well into 2012 based on analysts' estimates.
The tech area of the S&P 500 climbed only 1.3% last year, falling in the middle of the pack of the 10 sectors of the broad market index. Looking ahead to 2012, analysts expect earnings for the sector to grow 11.5%, which would be the third-best earnings growth rate of all S&P 500 sectors. Thanks to Apple's contribution, the tech sector is the best performing space in 2012, up 12% through Feb. 15.
The 13-F reporting system isn't perfect, as investors can't tell whether ownership of a stock means the hedge fund manager loves the company or is simply hedging a bigger short position. That said, it's interesting to look at opposing views based on these filings. Based on buying and selling, tech stocks -- and Apple in particular -- are the perfect example of this push and pull.Apple was among the most held of any stock by hedge funds, as it has been for several quarters now. SAC Capital, DE Shaw, Lone Pine Capital, Moore Capital and Maverick Capital all bought shares of the gadget maker during the fourth quarter. However, hedge funds like Blue Ridge and Coatue Management dumped Apple shares during the quarter. The same battleground story holds true among the other big tech stocks. Soros, Blue Ridge, Tiger Global, Lone Pine, DE Shaw, Moore Capital and Coatue bought up shares of Google (GOOG - Get Report) while Jana Partners dumped shares. Coatue and Viking Global bought Qualcomm (QCOM) while JAT Capital dumped its entire position in the chipmaker and Maverick sold shares. Research In Motion (RIMM) was another battleground name, with David Einhorn and Steven Cohen buying the stock as Phil Falcone's Harbinger Capital and JAT Capital sold out of stakes in the BlackBerry maker. DE Shaw sold Microsoft (MSFT) shares as SAC Capital bought nearly a million. One tech name that found lots of support was Yahoo! (YHOO) after Third Point's Daniel Loeb amassed a large stake in the Internet company and has pushed for major changes. Loeb added 8 million shares to bring his stake to 271 million shares, with George Soros, Louis Bacon, and David Einhorn also buying up Yahoo! shares during the quarter. >>To see these stocks in action, visit the Tech Stocks Bought and Sold by Hedge Funds portfolio on Stockpickr.