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Why Apple still solid on 2 fronts: Wealth managers

Apple stock—under heavy pressure since being added to the Dow Jones industrial average in mid-March—remains a solid investment technically and fundamentally, two leading money managers told CNBC on Thursday.

From a technical trading standpoint, "it hasn't done anything too adverse so far," hedge fund manager David Gerstenhaber said on "Squawk Box."

"It's a large piece of the index. Unless you think the index is going down hard, and unless there's any negative news on Apple, there's no way the stock should underperform."

Apple was down 4.5 percent since its addition to the Dow, which overall has only lost 3 percent during that period. The S&P 500 index, also heavily dependent on Apple's performance, was off just 2.5 percent since mid-March.

Shoppers in an Apple store in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Shoppers in an Apple store in New York.

Despite the pullback, Gerstenhaber said he's staying long Apple—calling it a "cheap stock" on a price-to-earnings basis with a powerful ecosystem.

Elizabeth Corley, chief executive at Allianz Global Investors, told "Squawk Box" she also likes Apple, but more from a fundamental perspective. "We think it's one of the strongest consumer brands in the world."

"It's well run," she said. "It's coming out with a great product lineup still," which benefits from loyalty that goes beyond its products. "It's got this consumer trust element."

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Apple is preparing for a larger initial production effort of its next iPhones—asking suppliers to make up to 90 million. That would exceed last year's record initial run for its first larger-screen devices.

But while the iPhone appears to be firing on all cylinders, the new Apple Watch looks to be struggling. The company never expected its first smartwatch offerings to be a smash hit right away, but a recent report indicated the devices have a long way to go.

Slice Intelligence, which measures digital commerce, said sales of the Apple Watch have plunged 90 percent since preorders started in April. Slice tweeted the news Tuesday.


Acknowledging the recent negative headlines on the Apple Watch, Corley said it's too early to deem it a failure.

"A lot of this is experimentation," she said. "A lot of this is finding the community that's interested [in] something, listening to the community feedback, innovating fast [and] getting out there. I think it's interesting to see the way in which they bring the consumer community into the development."

Mutual funds that Corley oversees at Allianz include Apple stock in some of their holdings. Prior to joining the German financial giant, she spent 11 years at Merrill Lynch in wealth management as a managing director.

For his part, Gerstenhaber, before branching out on his own, was one of investor Julian Robertson's first so-called tiger cubs—responsible for some big market calls during the 1990s such as the collapse of oil prices after start of the Persian Gulf War and the plunge in the British pound.

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