Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway raises Amazon stake by 11%, now worth $947 million

Warren Buffett

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Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has been loading up on shares of Amazon.

Berkshire upped its stake in the e-commerce giant by 11%, the Omaha, Nebraska-based holding company revealed in a government filing Wednesday. Berkshire now owns 537,300 shares of Amazon, worth $947 million. The holdings are as of the end of the second quarter.

Buffett announced his initial Amazon investment in May, but said he was not the one behind the share purchases.

“One of the fellows in the office that manage money” bought shares of Amazon on behalf of Berkshire, Buffett told CNBC’s Becky Quick on the eve of the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Omaha.

Buffett also slightly increased his bet on bank shares, which have been hit this month on concerns about an inverted yield curve hurting profits for the group. Berkshire’s Bank of America stake was increased by 3.5% last quarter, according to the filing. It also raised its holding of US Bancorp by 2.4%. Other big bank holdings, including Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase, remained the same.

The famous value investor has historically avoided major technology bets, ending a rough chapter in IBM last year. But in February 2017, he announced that Berkshire was buying a large stake in Apple. In the the first quarter of 2018, Berkshire added 75 million shares of the iPhone maker and told CNBC at the time that he clearly likes Apple, and “we buy them to hold.”

One of his two lieutenants, Todd Combs or Ted Weschler, who each manage portfolios of more than $13 billion in equities for Berkshire, is behind the original Amazon purchase and likely the increase seen last quarter.

The Berkshire chairman and CEO has long admired Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and is working with him on a joint health care venture. But the legendary investor has basically said that he missed his chance on Amazon.

Amazon has “far surpassed anything I would have dreamt could have been done. Because if I really felt it could have been done, I should have bought it,” Buffett told CNBC in 2018. “I had no idea that it had the potential. I blew it.”

Apparently one of his managers think there is an opportunity for gains still in the shares, which are 12% in the last month amid a broader market sell-off. 

Kraft Heinz, Berkshire’s fourth largest holding, hit a record low last week after the company announced an additional write-down of $1.22 billion and missed revenue expectations. Buffett told CNBC in June that he “made a mistake in the Kraft purchase in terms of paying too much. “

In its last major SEC filing, Berkshire Hathaway disclosed an 18% increase in its J.P. Morgan Chase stake to 59.5 million shares in its last quarterly filing, and a 22% increase to its Red Hat holdings to 5.1 million shares. Red Hat was acquired by IBM for $34 billion in July.

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