The Tell: ‘Apple a value stock?’ The Great Rotation takes a strange spin

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An Apple retail store in New York City. Can this stock be bought low and sold high?

As the “Great Rotation” grips the U.S. stock market, more investors are turning to “value” stocks, or those that are considered comparatively underpriced or overlooked.

In the past couple of weeks, while the main U.S. stock indexes SPX, +0.56% DJIA, +0.51% COMP, +0.75%   have hovered near all time highs, investors have been selling so-called momentum stocks which have led the market up based on fast growing revenues, earnings or valuations, and buying stocks offering value compared to earnings or book value.

But the speedy reversal of fortune for value, amid a market increasingly dominated by passively-managed funds, is leading to some unexpected outcomes.

See also: It’s reflation that’s turning the ‘Great Rotation,’ these analysts say

As famed investor Laszlo Birinyi put it in a Tuesday note to clients, “Yes, Caterpillar CAT, -0.26%   has done well as have the banks but the value index has been led by Apple. Apple a value stock?”

Birinyi was looking at the iShares S&P 500 Value ETF IVE, +0.58%  , which has gained over 4.3% since the start of the month. Apple Inc. AAPL, +2.39%   makes up 8.14% of that fund’s holdings, he noted.

Tim Quast, president of quantitative analytics firm ModernNetworks IR, told MarketWatch, “Apple is in 275 ETFs. They range from ultra-short-tech to Sharia to large-cap to covered call to value and growth both.”

Yes, Shariah: the Wahed FTSE USA Shariah ETF HLAL, +0.97%, whose holdings can be found here.  

Still, it’s a bit jarring to think of a company with a roughly trillion-dollar market cap, one whose devices are in the hands of billions of people literally around the world, as one that investors might not be fully appreciating.

As Birinyi put it, “Somehow buying Apple while playing defense is hard to compute but we are just reporting not editorializing.”

Related: Stock-market investors’ appetite for ‘bond proxies’ is waning