Published July 31, 2013
BOSTON – Fidelity Contrafund manager Will Danoff cut his stake in Apple Inc 28 percent during the first half of the year, citing the iPhone maker's "slowing growth profile."
The star stockpicker remained bullish on Google Inc and on Tesla Motors Inc's "disruptive technology and superior business model," according to his latest monthly commentary for investors.
Danoff remains Apple's largest active shareholder, only passive index and exchange-traded funds have larger stakes. His Contrafund owned 8.3 million shares of Apple at the end of June valued at $3.3 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. He owned nearly 11.6 million shares at the end of 2012.
"Reflective of the company's slowing growth profile, Apple moved from the fund's top position a year ago to the third spot as we reduced our stake in the company," said Danoff, who runs the $94 billion Contrafund for Fidelity Investments in Boston.
Danoff has been trimming his stake in Apple since last year. Google has become his largest holding at 6 percent of net assets. Danoff said that in the second quarter he increased his position in electric car maker Tesla, "a firm we believed was fundamentally reengineering the automobile for the first time in decades."
Meanwhile, Apple's stock is off about 15 percent this year and its $452.50 price on Wednesday is well below the all-time high of $705.07 reached last September.
Apple's plunge has hurt Danoff's performance this year. Contrafund's 2.05 percent return in the second quarter lagged the 2.91 percent advance on the benchmark S&P 500 Index.
But Danoff's 15-year track record remains stellar. Over that span, Contrafund's 7.35 percent annual return has beaten the benchmark S&P 500 Index by 3.11 percentage points each year.
Danoff reserved his most glowing remarks for Tesla. Contrafund owned $337 million worth of Tesla stock at the end of June after increasing its position 59 percent from the previous month, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Tesla's shares have been on a rampage, soaring 387 percent over the past 12 months.
"We increased our position during the quarter, as we believed company's disruptive technology and superior business model compared to industry peers may help it continue to grow at a fast pace for multiple years," Danoff said in his commentary.
(Reporting By Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)