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How Much Apple Stock Do You Really Own?


Apple (AAPL) stock has been a great investment over the years. Based upon its stock price and the number of shares outstanding it is the largest U.S stock based upon market capitalization. This means it is the largest holding in many popular index mutual funds and ETFs. This can lead to significant stock overlap in your portfolio if you aren’t aware of the underlying holdings in the funds and ETFs you own.

Chuck Jaffe wrote an excellent piece for Market Watch several years ago discussing the impact that a significant drop in Apple stock had on a number of mutual funds that hold large amounts of Apple. He cited a list of funds that had at least 10% of their assets in Apple.  On a day when Apple stock fell over 4% these funds had single day losses ranging from 0.22% to 2.66%.

The point is not to criticize mutual fund managers for holding large amounts of Apple, but rather as a reminder to investors to understand what they actually own when reviewing their mutual funds and ETFs.

Major price gains

Apple stock gained over 88% in 2019 and has an average annual gain in excess of 32% for the 15-years ending December 31, 2019. For index funds and ETFs whose holdings are market-cap weighted, these types of gains mean that the percentage of the fund in Apple stock has increased as well.

Percentage of Apple stock in major funds and ETFs

A number of index ETFs and mutual funds counted Apple as a significant holding as of December 31, 2019. The following percentage of assets for each fund are from Morningstar.

  • ishares Russell 1000 Growth ETF 8.53%
  • Vanguard Growth Index Investor 8.17%
  • Fidelity Growth Company 5.98%
  • SPDR® S&P 500 ETF Trust 4.57%
  • iShares Core S&P 500 ETF 4.57%
  • Fidelity 500 Index 4.34%
  • Vanguard 500 Index Investor 4.32%

In addition, it is also a dominant holding in several tech-related index funds, including:

  • Technology Select Sector SPDR® ETF 19.72%
  • Vanguard Information Technology ETF 17.53%
  • Invesco QQQ Trust 11.51%

Stock overlap 

In the late 1990s a client had me do a review of their portfolio as part of some work I was doing for the executives of the company. He held 19 different mutual funds and was certain that he was well-diversified.

The reality was that all 19 funds had similar investment styles and all 19 held some of the popular tech stocks of the day including Cisco, Intel and Microsoft. As this was right before the DOT COM bubble burst in early 2000 his portfolio would have taken quite a hit during the market decline of 2000-2002.

This type of situation could easily be the case today with stocks in companies like Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google’s parent), Facebook and others. Tools like Morningstar can help investors look under the hood of various ETFs and mutul funds to gauge the amount of stock overlap across their portfolio.  (The prior link is an affiliate link. I may receive compensation if you purchase their service at no extra cost to you)

Understand what you own 

If you invest in individual stocks you do this by choice. You know what you own. If you have a concentrated position in one or more stocks this is transparent to you.

Those who invest in mutual funds, ETFs and other professionally managed investment vehicles need to look at the underlying holdings of their funds. Excessive stock overlap among holdings can occur if your portfolio is concentrated in one or two asset classes. This is another reason why your portfolio should be diversified among several asset classes based upon your time horizon and risk tolerance.

As an extreme example, someone who works for a major corporation might own shares of their own company stock in some of the mutual funds and ETFs they own both inside their 401(k) plan and outside. In addition, they might directly own shares of company stock within their 401(k) and they might have stock options and own additional shares elsewhere. This can place the investor in a risky position should their company hit a downturn that causes the stock price to drop. Even worse if they are let go by the company not only has their portfolio suffered but they are without a paycheck from their employer as well.

The Bottom Line 

Mutual fund and ETF investors may hold more of large market capitalization stocks like Apple and Microsoft than they realize due to their prominence not only in large cap index funds but also in many actively managed funds. It is a good idea for investors to periodically review what their funds and ETFs actually own to ensure that they are not too heavily concentrated in a few stocks, increasing their portfolio risk beyond what they might have expected.

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  1. Great piece, Roger! I’ve run into the same thing and wrote about it recently too. I specifically picked on the Apple investors.
    I’ve found that explaining to clients what they are actually invested in is one of the most important things I do.

    • Roger Wohlner says

      Thanks Rob. Many investors don’t realize that they may be more heavily invested in a stock like Apple via their mutual fund and ETF holdings than they might want to be. This is especially crucial if they own individual stocks as well as mutual funds and ETFs.


  1. […] “How Much Apple Stock Do You Really Own?“; Roger Wohlner of The Chicago Financial Planner. The basic premise of this article is to understand what you own. If you have mutual funds, ETFs and individual stocks, you may not have a great idea of your investments. If several funds have large concentrations in one stock and it drops, that might explain the fund share value drop.  […]

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