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Is Apple, world’s largest stock, ‘underowned’?

Shoppers look at iPhones at an Apple store in New York
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Jason Trennert, a top Wall Street strategist, makes the case that Apple is in fact "underowned" by the mutual fund and hedge fund community, a theory that may lift the stock to even greater heights as those active managers are forced to buy more shares in order to beat their benchmark.

Trennert, who runs his own research firm, Strategas, also knocks down the notion that the market has grown too dependent on the world's largest stock and that if its shares do fall, the S&P 500 must pullback with it.

In the five largest actively managed mutual funds, Apple makes up a 1.6 percent position, according to Strategas. The 50 biggest hedge funds have a 1.7 percent average position in the stock. Meanwhile, Apple makes up more than 4 percent of the passive SPDR S&P 500 ETF.

"Believe it or not, Apple may be underowned," said Trennert.

Apple's stock surged 67 percent in the last one year to a record and now sports a market value of $748 billion. Exxon Mobil is the second-biggest stock in the S&P 500 with a $363 billion market capitalization and a 2 percent weighting.

"We would be first to admit that it is somewhat unnerving to think that the market cap of any stock is more than twice that of Exxon Mobil. Still, we think it's hard to get too worried about the fact that Apple's rise augurs trouble for the index when Apple trades at 15.1 times forward earnings and has dividend yield of 1.4 percent (higher than the sovereign 10-year yields, incidentally, of Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland)," wrote Trennert.

And Trennert makes the point that only as a result of the late 1990s technology bubble did the biggest stock by market value take down the S&P 500 significantly. In 2000, Microsoft dropped by 63 percent, hitting the S&P 500 by 10 percent that year. All other years, the biggest company seemed to trade independently from the market.

"Whether it's been IBM, Exxon, General Electric, or even Apple, there have been many years when the alpha dog underperformed the broader market," stated the report.


Source: Strategas

Still there's no denying the overwhelming influence of Apple because of its size and the dilemma faced by investors who choose not to put as much money in the stock as passive funds do.

From Laszlo Birinyi's latest missive:

"Some months back when there was concern regarding small stocks. We argued that the market value of 60 percent of the small stock index (Russell 2000) totaled the value of Apple alone. So you could be right on Apple and wrong on 1,200 stocks and still be even."

Read More Apple value to hit $1 trillion in 1 year: Analyst

The next big catalyst for Apple comes Monday with the expected formal introduction and sale of the Apple Watch. You can be sure all market participants will be gauging the reception, not just analysts that cover the company.

Apple shares pulled back by more than 1 percent after Deutsche Bank put out a tepid note on the Apple Watch. The firm also has the rare "hold" rating on the stock.

"While we remain positive on the Watch as a new product category for Apple, and we expect a strong launch, we do not view the Watch as a significant revenue driver for Apple over the next five years," stated the report.

Apple's loss did not, however, drive the S&P 500 down on Thursday.