Apple shares shrug off rebalancing of Nasdaq-100
NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters) - Apple Inc is no longer the titan taking up more than one-fifth of the Nasdaq 100 Index, but it's still going to find plenty of buyers.
Index funds, exchange traded funds and managers who seek to mimic the index were forced to sell the iPhone maker's stock between April 5, when the announcement was made, and Friday afternoon, when the rebalance officially took place. But the weakness is an opportunity, not a harbinger, fund managers say.
"Any weakness in the share price due to the recalibration should be taken advantage of by investors," said Channing Smith, co-portfolio manager of a growth fund at Capital Advisors in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that includes Apple shares.
Nasdaq OMX Group Inc (NDAQ.O) said early last month it was cutting its weighting in Apple (AAPL.O) to 12.3 percent from 20.5 percent as part of a rebalancing of the Nasdaq 100 .NDX to better reflect the current market cap of the biggest Nasdaq issues.
"The stock continues to be best in class in technology, continues to exceed investor expectations," said Smith.
The news was followed by two weeks of losses in Apple stock that brought the shares down almost 5 percent before they recovered. The primary beneficiaries in terms of index weighting are Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Oracle Corp ORCL.O and Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O), although the three are all lower since April 4, despite the news.
The index rebalancing forces popular index-tracking funds such as the heavily traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ.O) to sell Apple in order to match the new composition of the index.
According to the Nasdaq, 329.21 million shares with a notional value of $12.7 billion traded at the Nasdaq "closing cross" trade in the span of 0.779 second.
"A lot of the trading activity was done in anticipation and I'd guess everything is behind us," said Anthony Davidow, portfolio strategist at Rydex in New York.
Apple traded down 1.1 percent on Monday afternoon at $346.45, more than 1.5 percent above its close on April 4.
"Apple is still very, very widely held (among) index providers as well as active managers and there's a lot of liquidity," said Rydex's Davidow.
Apple's most recent quarterly results crushed Wall Street's expectations after iPhone and Mac sales scaled new heights and iPad supplies could not keep up with roaring global demand. At least one analyst set a target price above $600.
"Most investors are trying to outperform the index," said Kim Caughey Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
Index managers buying the components of the average will need to hold fewer shares of Apple following the rebalancing. More than $330 billion in funds and $40 billion in ETFs are benchmarked to the Nasdaq 100.
That would have put their holdings at about $75.85 billion in Apple stock prior to rebalancing - but managers said there would still be plenty of interest from others in buying the shares.
"Apple's been a stellar performer and you have to look at the fundamentals of the stock rather than it's place in an index to tell you what to buy and what to hold if you're going to outperform," Forrest said. (Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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