Berkshire's Apple Gain Reaches $1.6 Billion; Cost Disclosed

  • Airline bet also prospers after Southwest, Delta gain
  • Buffett’s stock portfolio is worth more than $120 billion

Buffett’s Deputies’ Influence Seen in Apple, Airline Bets

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s gain on Apple Inc. is more than $1.6 billion after shares of the iPhone maker surged.

The stake of 61.2 million shares was acquired last year for $6.75 billion, an average of about $110.17 apiece, according to the annual report Saturday from Berkshire, which is led by billionaire Chairman Warren Buffett. The holding was valued at more than $8.3 billion as of Friday’s $136.66 closing price.

Berkshire became one of the top 10 Apple investors in 2016, taking a stake of more than 9 million shares in the first quarter and then accelerating purchases in the last three months of the year. While regulatory documents from an insurance subsidiary showed that the initial purchases were for an average of $99.49 a share, Saturday’s document offers details on the entire stake as of Dec. 31.
Buffett’s company bought $12 billion in stocks after the Nov. 8 U.S. election, the billionaire told Charlie Rose on Jan. 27. The move was well-timed as stocks rallied into this year on optimism that President Donald Trump’s policies will stoke growth.

Bets on U.S. airlines were also profitable. Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire paid an average of about $41.85 for Delta Airlines Inc., according to Saturday’s report; the stock closed Friday at $50.46.

Buffett’s holding of Southwest Airlines Co. is up 44 percent from his $40.67 purchase price. United Continental Holdings Inc. rose 35 percent above the $55.48 average. 

The billionaire repeated his suggestion that visitors to the company’s annual meeting look to save transportation costs, noting that airfares to Omaha are often inflated on the weekend of the gathering.

‘Some Tolerance’

However, “I must admit I have developed some tolerance, bordering on enthusiasm, for that practice now that Berkshire has made large investments in America’s four major carriers,” he wrote in his annual letter to shareholders. The meeting is scheduled for May 6.

Berkshire also took a stake in American Airlines Group Inc. last year. That holding is not listed in the annual report, which covers the top 15 stakes. The figures in the annual report differ slightly, in some cases, from data in a separate filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this month. Saturday’s document excludes shares held by pension funds of Berkshire subsidiaries.

Apple was the fifth-largest holding listed in Berkshire’s $122 billion portfolio as of Dec. 31, according to the report. The top four are all long-time Buffett favorites: Wells Fargo & Co., Coca-Cola Co., International Business Machines Corp. and American Express Co.

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