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Tech trusts bitten by Apple share price fall

Tech trusts bitten by Apple share price fall

Apple's sharp share price fall has hit Warren Buffett and investors in UK technology investment trusts as well as passive funds.

Apple shares fell 5 per cent as several companies which supply components used in its products revealed they had cut production at the request of a major customer. The market interpreted this as demand for Apple products being lower, and its share price promptly dropped.

The company's shares fell from $2.27 on October 1 to $1.94 this morning but are still trading at a higher level than a year ago.

Vanguard and BlackRock, which have substantial passive investment funds, were Apple's largest and third largest institutional shareholders respectively, while Mr Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway was the second largest shareholder.

The £1.5bn Polar Capital Technology Trust has 8 per cent of its capital invested in Apple shares, a holding worth around £120m, making Apple the third largest investment in the trust.

Meanwhile the £444m Allianz Technology Trust has 2.5 per cent of its capital invested in Apple shares, making it one of the 10 largest holdings, according to data from FE Analytics.

Mr Price said his investment case for Apple shares was not related to the company being able to sell more phones, as he believed it has reached a "peak" in that regard, but that selling extra services to Apple customers was where future growth would come from.

Tom Slater jointly runs the £7.4bn Scottish Mortgage investment trust which is heavily invested in large technology stocks, with Amazon, Netflix, Tesla, Tencent and Alibaba all among its top 10 holdings.

But Mr Slater said his funds had no exposure to Apple shares after he sold out of the company a number of years ago because of concerns about a lack of innovation. 

He said most of the other large US technology companies were delivering sufficient innovation to justify the valuations at which they traded.

Simon Edelsten, who runs the £187m Mid Wynd International investment trust, said he sold Apple shares about three years ago because this was when new iPhones had new features and people needed more memory which drove upgrades.

He said: "For us this is now very profitable, but probably past it’s best growth."

david.thorpe@ft.com