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For the second quarter in a row,
AAPL) tops off the list of stocks that the smart money hates the most. Only, this past quarter, funds have been accelerating the selloff, unloading more than 2.8 million shares of the tech giant. That's a $1.5 billion stake reduction at share prices from the start of the first quarter. But those sells are misguided right now.
Apple's reach stretches across a number of industries. The firm makes consumer electronics through its iPod, iPhone, iPad and Macintosh lines; it operates the most profitable retail stores in the industry; and it weighs in as the biggest music distributor in the world through iTunes. That scale is impressive; Apple's dominant position in so many different categories puts a big target on its back, and it makes attaining meaningful growth numbers a big challenge.
But there's value there. As I write, Apple currently carries approximately $145 billion in cash and investments, offset by a paltry $17 billion of debt (a tactic the firm is using to avoid a $9.2 billion tax bill from repatriating cash). In a nutshell, Apple has enough wherewithal to pay for a third of its market cap in cold hard cash -- and it's generating more and more every day.
Professional investors aren't immune from chasing performance, and with the conspicuous drop in AAPL since November, it's no surprise that they're under pressure to unload this stock. But with shares trading at a bargain valuation in May and technical strength finally coming back into shares, it looks like plenty of funds could bottom-tick Apple (on the wrong side of the trade). I wouldn't recommend being a seller here.
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