Individual investors rush into Apple

  @CNNMoneyInvest May 13, 2013: 3:44 AM ET
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Individual investors took advantage of Apple's recent stock slide to snap up shares of the tech giant last month, according to brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.

In fact, TD Ameritrade said more of its clients own Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) now than ever before, a sign that many were first-time buyers.

"Apple has always been a big favorite among clients, and in particular a darling of traders," but recently value investors have jumped on the bandwagon, said Nicole Sherrod, managing director of TD Ameritrade's Trader Group.

The rush of new buyers makes Apple the second-most widely held stock among the brokerage firm's clients, just behind GE (GE, Fortune 500).

In terms of dollars invested, Apple is the winner by a wide margin.

Related: I lost $2,000 on Apple, but still betting on recovery

But it wasn't just Apple's stock decline that lured investors.

Many of TD Ameritrade's clients were also drawn in by Apple's announcement to more than double the amount it plans to return to shareholder through dividends and share buybacks.

The plan to return $100 billion to shareholders over the next few years also attracted larger investors. Last week, hedge fund titan David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital praised the capital return program and said his firm had boosted its stake in Apple.

Related: Apple picks itself up off the mat

In addition to Apple, TD Ameritrade clients also picked up other stocks that had recently suffered price declines, such as Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF, Fortune 500) and Vale (VALE), as well as industrial giants like Alcoa (AA, Fortune 500), and Caterpillar (CAT, Fortune 500).

At the same time, they started bailing out of some high fliers like McDonald's (MCD, Fortune 500), which hit an all-time high last month.

"Investors remained fairly bullish in April, but we saw them rotating their holdings," said Sherrod.

TD Ameritrade clients also lightened their exposure to Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500), which continues to trade in record territory and other big gainers, like Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500) and Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500). To top of page

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