Millennials are addicted to Facebook. Boomers love GE, and recent grads worship Buffett. Most of all, everybody loves Apple. (Tweet This)
That's the findings of TD Ameritrade data on the age-divided equity asset allocations of its 6.3 million retail clients. Apple topped the charts, but the underlying differences show that age matters.
Fighting the popularity competition with the iPhone maker, General Electric's stock had the second-highest allocation in portfolios of investors age 50 and older. The appliance maker took fifth place in the 35 to 49 age-range and fourth place for the millennial-and-younger crowd.
"Retail investors tend to trade what they know," said Nicole Sherrod, managing director of trading at TD Ameritrade. "We feel pretty strongly that different brands resonate with different age groups."
Apple went public in 1980, while GE was an original member of the Dow Jones industrial average when it was created in 1896.
Facebook's popularity may be on the wane. The social media stock was the second-highest holding among 25-to-49-year-olds, but eighth for the younger set.
Other information technology names Microsoft and Intel were among the top 10 stocks for all generations. That makes the sector a fifth to a third of all portfolio holdings in the study. Google would also be in the top 20 without the stock split.
Relative newcomer Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce site, made it into the top 25 holdings for all TD Ameritrade investors under 65, with 25-to-49-year-olds having the greatest allocation. Tesla is also a favorite in that age category.
Sherrod said that age group consists of many working parents who heavily utilize Amazon.com. "The younger demographic is looking at Alibaba as the next Amazon," she said. In a country with a large population and low Internet penetration, they may see it as "a stock that really has room to run."
The data also illustrated age preference for high-beta versus high-yielding stocks. Those under 35 had the lowest allocation to utilities at 1.8 percent, while the 65-plus group had the highest allocation at 4.9 percent. Health-care allocation also skewed higher for older clients.
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CNBC's top ticker look-ups for 2015 to date reflected the study's results. Apple topped the charts, with Facebook and Bank of America the next two most-searched stocks. General Electric followed.