Buf­fett goes on buy­ing spree for Ap­ple stock

Berk­shire Hath­away more than dou­bles share in tech gi­ant

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Mike Snider @mikesnider USA TO­DAY

War­ren Buf­fett has been on an Ap­ple stock buy­ing spree.

The bil­lion­aire in­vestor told CNBC on Mon­day that his Berk­shire Hath­away in­vest­ment firm has more than dou­bled its share in the Cu­per­tino, Calif.-head­quar­tered tech gi­ant to 133 mil­lion shares, or about $17 bil­lion.

Berk­shire Hath­away had 57 mil­lion shares in Ap­ple in the fourth quar­ter, ac­cord­ing to a se­cu­ri­ties fil­ing from this month. Af­ter Jan. 1, it bought 120 mil­lion Ap­ple shares. The in­vest­ment firm’s hold­ings of Ap­ple would amount to about 2.5% of the com­pany. “We’ve spent a lot of money since Dec. 31,” Buf­fett said on CNBC. Ap­ple’s share price “has shot up since then,” he said. “It’s at a price dif­fer­ent than I would buy it now.”

Ap­ple shares rose 0.2% to $136.93. So far this year, Ap­ple stock has risen 18%. When CNBC’s Becky Quick asked Buf­fett why he pur­chased the shares, he an­swered, “Be­cause I liked it.”

She noted that he is not tra­di­tion­ally an in­vestor in tech firms. Buf­fett re­sponded that Ap­ple is more of a con­sumer prod­uct maker and that once con­sumers buy Ap­ple they will likely re­main a cus­tomer.

Buf­fett held up his own cell­phone, which looked to be a Sam­sung fea­ture phone. “There is a vast un­tapped mar­ket out there,” he said. “Eighty-six-year-old guys who haven’t got it yet.”

Berk­shire’s net worth grew $27.5 bil­lion, or 10.7%, in 2016 to $172,108 per Class A equiv­a­lent share, ac­cord­ing to the Omaha, Neb.-based firm’s an­nual share­holder let­ter re­leased Satur­day.

The com­pany also bought more than $9 bil­lion of air­line stocks be­cause Buf­fett be­lieves air­lines have in­creased their ef­fi­ciency. Af­ter all the bank­rupt­cies and con­sol­i­da­tion in the in­dus­try, Buf­fett says the air­lines are per­form­ing bet­ter and gen­er­ally fly­ing with their planes at least 80% filled.

At the end of 2016, Berk­shire held 45.5 mil­lion shares of Amer­i­can, 60 mil­lion shares of Delta, 43.2 mil­lion shares of South­west and nearly 29 mil­lion shares of United Con­ti­nen­tal.

On Kraft Heinz Foods’ $143 bil­lion bid to ac­quire Unilever, Buf­fett said the deal fell apart be­cause the Euro­pean com­pany wasn’t in­ter­ested. It ini­tially ap­peared that Unilever might be open to ne­go­ti­at­ing a deal, Buf­fett said, but once a rough of­fer was de­liv­ered it be­came clear the owner of Lip­ton and Hell­man’s wasn’t in­ter­ested.

AP Berk­shire Hath­away CEO War­ren Buf­fett

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