Pretty much everybody have jumped on the news that Berkshire Hathaway has been buying shares of Amazon. However, their CEO Warren Buffett says he isn’t the one behind the purchases.
“One of the fellows in the office that manage money … bought some Amazon so it will show up in the 13F.”
Buffett was referring to either Todd Combs or Ted Weschler, who both manage portfolios of more than $13 billion in equities for Berkshire.
However, earlier this week he said in one of the interviews:
“I have missed things that were within my circle, and that’s a terrible mistake. Those are my biggest mistakes. You haven’t seen them. But … it’s not a mistake because I miss Netscape or something like that.”
The stake in Amazon is a first for the multinational investment conglomerate. In each case, Buffet never made a secret of his admiration for Amazon and Jeff Bezos, repeatedly speaking high of the e-commerce company and its chief executive during past Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meetings:
“I was impressed with Jeff early. I never expected he could pull off what he did … on the scale that it happened. At the same time he’s shaking up the whole retail world, he’s also shaking up the IT world simultaneously. These are powerful, powerful ideas with big potential, and he’s executed.”
He also added:
“Yeah, I’ve been a fan, and I’ve been an idiot for not buying Amazon shares, but I want you to know it’s no personality changes taking place.”
Two years ago, when asked why he hasn’t invested in Amazon shares yet, Buffett gave a one-word answer: “Stupidity.” Last year in an interview with CNBC, Warren Buffett said:
“The truth is that I’ve watched Amazon from the start and I think what Jeff Bezos has done is something close to a miracle, and the problem is if I think something is going to be a miracle I tend not to bet on it.”
Last year, Berkshire, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase & Co. launched a joint venture to improve health care for their employees and while he’s not into Amazon, Buffett isn’t averse to big tech stocks.
Second Largest Investor in Apple
Berkshire took its first position in Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.55% in 2016, and eventually built up a 5% stake in the tech giant, which was worth almost $60 billion as of September 2018. That stake has since been reduced — the company trimmed its Apple holdings by 1%, or about 2.89 million shares, in the December-ended quarter, and Buffett said in February that he hasn’t been buying shares.
Now Berkshire Hathaway owns about 250 million shares of Apple, making Berkshire the company’s second-largest investor. Shares in Apple have soared more than 30% this year.
Berkshire Hathaway has lagged the broader market this year. The stock is up just 6.6% in 2019, compared to a nearly 18% gain for the S&P 500.
However, it is interesting to see the “evolution” of Warren Buffet even though he says it’s not “personality changes”. First, he came open to Apple, now, he praises Amazon. Is it possible that Oracle changes his mind about cryptocurrencies as well?
Just for a reminder, Warren Buffett bought a $2.1 billion stake in Oracle — and dumped it a quarter later. He explained it:
“Cofounder and CTO Larry Ellison’s done a fantastic job with Oracle. I mean I’ve followed it from the standpoint of reading about it. But I felt like I didn’t understand the business. Then, after I started buying it, I felt I still didn’t understand the business.
I actually changed my mind in terms of understand and not in terms of evaluating it. I think, I mean, Oracle is a great business. But I don’t think, particularly after my experience with IBM, I don’t think I understand exactly where the cloud is going.
You know, I’ve been amazed at what Amazon has done there. And now Microsoft is doing it as well. So I don’t know where that game is going.”
Even though Buffet did speak negatively on Bitcoin calling it the ‘rat poison‘ a year ago, in February he already had soften saying:
“Bitcoin is ingenious and blockchain is important… but Bitcoin doesn’t produce anything. You can stare at it all day and no little Bitcoins come out. Who knows where we will be next year.”
After massive year over year growth in its annual price floor, Bitcoin seems to become more like long term investment that Buffet is mainly keen of.
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