Any institution that manages more than $100 million in equities was required by Wednesday to file a form 13f telling the government what shares they bought and what they sold. Although Apple was the institutional investors’ most popular holding, according to Whale Wisdom, which collects and packages 13fs, as a group these funds reduced their Apple holdings by 35 million shares, or 6.23%
148 funds created new Apple positions
906 funds added to their positions
196 closed out their positions
725 reduced their positions
Who was selling and who was buying?
We can show you some of the big players. The first pair of charts below, extracted from Whale Wisdom’s data, list the dozen biggest bears and bulls, starting with UBS, which sold nearly 7 million shares of Apple in the quarter, and Putnam, which bought more than 2.5 million.
So UBS, Fidelity and JP Morgan were bearish on Apple last quarter, and Putnam, Goldman Sachs and Vanguard were bullish, right?
Not so fast. Because when you factor in the derivatives market, things get a lot more complicated.
Here is Whale Wisdom’s list of the dozen largest buyers and sellers of Apple puts and calls in Q2.
Take, for example, UBS, which seemed bearish when it sold those 7 million shares. But in the same quarter it also bought the right to buy 5.7 million shares, which could be considered a bullish play.
In the other camp is Goldman Sachs, which looked so bullish when it purchased 1.7 million shares. It also bought the right to sell 2.7 million shares in the form of puts, which is a bearish investment.
These brand name institutions tend to use the options markets as a hedging mechanism — shedding risk on their stock holdings by offsetting trades in puts and calls.
What’s more interesting about the last four spreadsheets is the number of $100 million-plus firms you’ve probably never heard of. Who, for example are Walleye Trading and Pine River Capital Management? They’re playing both sides of the options game, buying and selling derivatives by the hundreds of thousands of shares.
It’s the Wild West out there in the derivatives market, and except for the requirement that they file 13fs every quarter, the cowboys are pretty much unregulated.