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This Apple Stock Investor Made $270 Million in 2020

Not CEO Tim Cook, but chairman Art Levinson is Apple’s largest individual shareholder. In 2020, as Apple stock soared 80%, the investor’s 4.6 million shares earned him a whopping $270 million in paper gains.

2020 was a tough year for everyone, as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe. But at least financially, one Apple investor had 270 million reasons to smile ear-to-ear.

Dr. Art Levinson made bank in 2020. At the start of last year, the investor owned a stock split-adjusted 4.59 million shares of Apple, of which he sold very few in 2021 (a net 2,700 shares, per my estimate).

During the pandemic year, aided by the stay-at-home trends and sharp valuation expansion in the tech sector, Apple stock returned an impressive 80%.

Along for the ride, Mr. Levinson saw the market value of his stake in Apple rise from north of $330 million to over $600 million in only twelve months – for an outstanding gain of $270 million.

The figure does not include director compensation that the investor received in 2020, which amounted to another half a million dollars or so.

Who is Art Levinson?

Dr. Levinson has been Apple’s chairman of the board since 2011, when he replaced legendary founder Steve Jobs. He had joined the board as a member about ten years earlier.

The investor’s career did not start in information technology, however. Dr. Levinson, a postdoc microbiology scientist, started working at biotech company Genentech in 1980. He climbed the corporate ladder all the way to the top, reaching the CEO position.

Within Big Tech, Dr. Levinson also served as a board member for Google (now Alphabet) until 2009. Later, he became CEO of Calico, a subsidiary of the Mountain View-based company that researches aging and associated diseases.

Millions made in 2020

Contrary to what some may believe, Art Levinson, not Tim Cook, is Apple’s largest individual shareholder. This does not mean, however, that the CEO and other company insiders did not see a sharp increase in their net worth in 2020, at least in what pertains to their Apple stock ownership.

Below are the next three largest shareholders of Apple, followed by the estimated market value of their holdings as of early March 2021:

  • CEO Tim Cook: $410 million
  • COO Jeff Williams: $60 million
  • Former US Vice President Al Gore: $57 million

Institutions still dominate

Despite the large numbers laid out above, Apple is still owned largely by institutions. See graph below.

As of the end of 2020, three money managers owned one-fifth of the Cupertino company’s equity: Vanguard, BlackRock, and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Combined, these institutions currently hold about $400 billion worth of Apple stock.

Much of this ownership is then distributed across mutual funds and ETFs whose shares, in turn, are often held by individual investors. For example, about 2.5% of Apple is owned within the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund, ticker VTI, while nearly 2% is in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, ticker VFINX.

Institutional ownership by peer.

Institutional ownership by peer.

Twitter speaks

I was curious to see if the Twitter-verse had a good guess on how much Apple’s top shareholder had gained in 2020. Here are the results:

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(Disclaimers: the author may be long one or more stocks mentioned in this report. Also, the article may contain affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence editorial content. Thanks for supporting The Apple Maven)