Published: Wed, March 01, 2017
Science | By Kerry Wheeler

Berkshire shareholder: I don't know why the company bought more Apple

Berkshire shareholder: I don't know why the company bought more Apple

Greg Abel, who leads the energy business at Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., received $17.5 million in pay previous year.

Investors in Apple seemed to react with caution to Buffett's announcement that he bought a massive new quantity of shares.

Some of Buffett's stock positions date back many years, some to the 1980s and 1990s.

Buffett, who was a vocal supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said he would judge U.S. President Donald Trump based on how safe the country is in four years. More importantly, Buffett also received warrants to buy 700 million Bank of America common shares at $7.14 each, roughly where the stock traded, by September 2021. "From a standing start 240 years ago - a span of time less than triple my days on earth - Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers".

"Geico's low costs create a moat - an enduring one - that competitors are unable to cross", Buffett said in his annual shareholders letter.

Last year, passive strategies attracted US$504.8 billion (S$708.7 billion) in new money, while active managers saw US$340.1 billion in redemptions, according to data from Morningstar.

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The most recent quarterly filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show Berkshire Hathaway owned about 57.4 million shares at the end of the fourth quarter, an increase of more than 42 million shares from the third quarter.

Buffett said that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook (file above) has done a "terrific job".

The billionaire has made his point most visibly through a $1 million bet with Protege Partners, which had said that hedge funds' ability to short stocks would give them an advantage in falling markets. "One of them knew a lot about basketball; the other didn't know anything about basketball, but they each got $50,000 out of it". And despite being famous for his buy-and-hold investment style, Buffett and his team did quite a bit of buying and selling stocks in 2016. Currently, it has 133 million shares as its holdings, which can be valued at $17 billion.

The much-anticipated letter often covers the same ground he's covered in previous letters - most notably his belief in the power of the insurance "float", where insurers achieve investment gains on premiums before paying claims.

The reinsurance business is run by Ajit Jain, seen as a potential successor for Buffett as Berkshire's CEO.

In a possible sign that succession planning is on Mr Buffett's mind, he noted that senior investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler each managed more than $US10 billion of Berkshire's investments.

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