Google Becomes Funds' New Technology Favorite
March 19, 2013
Company A last year pumped up its revenues by 44.6%-from a base of $108.2 billion.
Company A also boosted its gross margin by 56.7%, from a base of $43.8 billion, and its net income by 61.0%, from $25.9 billion.
But its net profit margin has fallen from 26.9% for all of 2012, to 22.8% in the last quarter of last year. But in the first quarter of this fiscal year, that got pushed back up to 24.0%.
Meanwhile, Company G "only" boosted its revenue by 32.3%, from a base of about half as much, $50.2 billion.
Company G also saw its gross profit margin fall from 65.2% in 2011 to 58.9% in 2012. And its net profit margin fall from 25.7% to 21.4%, year over year. In the fourth quarter, it crept down to 20.0%.
Yet, in that fourth quarter, Company G -Google-surpassed Company A-Apple-as the most widely held stock in the 50 most actively managed mutual funds in the United States, according to Citi Research.
Google stock at the end of 2012 was one of the top 10 holdings in 19 of the nation's 50 largest mutual funds. That was up from 11, at the end of the first quarter of 2012.
Apple, by contrast, peaked in the second quarter. At the end of June, the maker of mobile devices and computers was one of the top 10 holdings of 22 of the largest 50 mutual funds, according to the tally of Citi Research analyst Tobias Levkovich.
By the end of the year, that was down to 14 funds.
In spite of what Levkovich called "a lackluster fourth quarter performance,'' Google gained four holdings and Apple lost three, in the final three months of the year. That was the biggest decline of any top holding, he said.
That, of course, coincided with a huge drop in Apple's stock price. Shares hovered above $700, at the end of September; and finished the year at $509, each.
By the time Citi released its analysis of fund holdings, the disparity was clear.
Google's shares were trading at about 25 times profit, compared with a multiple of less than 10 for Apple, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That gap is at its widest since June 2005, two years before competition between the two companies in mobile devices began to intensify.
Much of this, according to financial analysts, is due to Google' continued dominance of Internet search activity and related advertising and the growth of its Android operating system for mobile devices. In January, Android devices constituted 52.3% of all smartphones in use in the United States, according to Comscore, a research firm. Apple's share was 37.8%.
But Apple's share was up from 34.3% the previous month; and Google devices fell 1.3%. The malaise has been attributed to a lack of major new product announcements by Apple since the death of founder Steve Jobs and fear that Korean electronics giant Samsung could be moving ahead of Apple in features and quality on smartphones, at least, and possibly tablets, later.
Nonetheless, 29 of 39 analysts following Apple rated it a strong buy, as of March 11. Only six rated it a hold. None had it at ''sell,'' according to Zacks Investment Research.
Regardless of the jousting between Google and Apple or their comparative results, technology stocks remained the preferred holdings of actively managed mutual funds, according to Levkovich.