| CHICAGO, June 12
CHICAGO, June 12 William Nygren, a top manager
at Oakmark Funds, said on Wednesday he remains bullish on Apple
Inc and Bank of America Corp, but is still
avoiding Dell Inc in light of the company's plans to
take the computer maker private.
Nygren, a noted value investor who runs the $9.6 billion
Oakmark Fund, said at the Morningstar Investment Conference in
Chicago that Apple is undervalued while Bank of America has one
of the top management teams in the banking industry.
Nygren said that there is "an awful lot that could go wrong
at Apple" before it would appear overvalued, and that its high
growth rate and recent move to return more cash to shareholders
through dividends and buybacks was "comforting."
Apple announced in April its plan to return $100 billion to
shareholders by the end of 2015 by increasing its dividend and
share buybacks. The technology giant's stock had tumbled more
than 45 percent from Sept. 21 to April 19, falling by roughly
$320 per share, but has since risen more than 10 percent.
Nygren's Oakmark Fund earned a return of 21
percent last year, besting 97 percent of peers, according to
Lipper. The fund is up 16.7 percent so far this year, above 86
percent of peers.
Nygren also said that Bank of America stock is undervalued,
and that Chief Executive Brian Moynihan is unfairly blamed for
mistakes made by prior management. Moynihan was elected head of
the bank in late 2009, following the 2008 financial crisis.
"Most of what has gone wrong at Bank of America was put in
place by the prior management, and we think unfairly that Brian
Moynihan has been tarred by that brush," Nygren said. Nygren's
Oakmark Fund had over 3 percent of its assets invested in Bank
of America at the end of March, according to Lipper.
Nygren, who said in April that he sold his $250 million
stake in Dell after private equity firm Blackstone Group LP
ended its pursuit of the company, told Reuters that an
alternative proposal to founder Michael Dell and private equity
firm Silver Lake Partners' $24.4 billion buyout of the company
has not lured him back into the stock.
"We're not really current on the situation. We had been
intrigued with Blackstone's involvement, and after Blackstone
walked away, we decided to do the same thing," Nygren said.
Dell shareholders will vote on July 18 on the
$13.65-per-share buyout offer by Michael Dell and Silver Lake.
Competing against that proposal is activist investor Carl
Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management, who together own about
13 percent of Dell stock. They proposed an alternative to the
buyout that lets shareholders get $12 of cash for every share
they own as well as keep their stock.