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Form 13F: What It Is And Why It's Important

Joel Elconin

What is a form 13F and who needs to file them?

Form 13F is shorthand for the quarterly report filed, per SEC regulations, by "institutional investment managers" to the SEC and containing all equity assets under management of at least $100 million in value.

This covers institutional money managers, RIAs, banks insurance companies, hedge funds, trust companies, pension and mutual funds and large individual investors.

The filings cover more than 17,500 securities, however, short positions aren't required to be disclosed in this document.

Since it's quarterly, the stakes revealed could have been acquired at any time during the previous three-month time period. Some investors, or more so short-term traders, might interpret this to mean that Warren Buffett was out adding to his huge Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) position as the stock just made a new all-time high nearly two years after it peaked in April 2015.

Quite the contrary, the most recent filing represents the time period from October-December 2016. At that time, the price range in Apple was from $112.28-$118.69, well below its current level of $135.

Along these lines, Buffett acquired his original stake in Apple, which was revealed in early November, in the July-September period when the issue traded in a range from $92.57-$103.74 range.

Let’s also focus on the shorter-term trading action upon the release of the most recent 13-F filings. As expected, Apple took flight in February 14's after-hours session and the rally continued on Wednesday as the issue closed at a new all-time high of $135.44.

Of course, there could have been some short-term profits accrued by trading off this information. However, investors will have to wait until Buffett's 13-F in May to find out if he was actually selling shares to the all the sheep following his lead from months in the past.

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