Whether you own technology exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or not, what happens to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) in all likelihood affects you.

Many investors are "secret owners" of Apple stock. That is, it's so ubiquitous you may not even realize you not only own it, but own a significant amount.

Brett Arends for The Wall Street Journal points out that Apple is in a rare class of stocks. It's widely owned and affects many retirement portfolios. Its wide ownership flies against convention, since it's a volatile growth stock.

Most stocks that show up in nearly every portfolio are those of more stable, established companies that are well past the growth stage. (Tech ETFs Poised To Power Up.)

If your U.S. stock portfolio is up over the past few years, and especially last year, Apple's performance probably had something to do with it. More than 100 mutual funds have invested more than 10% of their assets in Apple. And Apple alone accounts for more than a fifth of the widely followed Nasdaq 100 Index. (Why Tech ETFs Could Be 2011's Hottest.)

Apple is also a major component in a number of ETFs:

  • Internet Architecture HOLDRs (NYSE: IAH): Apple is 23%
  • PowerShares QQQ Trust (NYSE: QQQQ): Apple is 20%
  • iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (NYSE: IYW): Apple is 13.4%
  • Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSE: XLK): Apple is 12%
  • iShares S&P Global Technology (NYSE: IXN):Apple is 10.2%

So the next time you hear a bit of Apple news, make sure you don't own Apple stock before you decide the reports don't apply to you.

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