Tags: Buffett | Airline | Investments | Berkshire

Buffett: Airlines Fly High After Bad Century

 (Getty)

Monday, 27 February 2017 08:55 AM

Billionaire Warren Buffett says his company bought more than $9 billion of airline stocks because he believes they are operating more efficiently than they used to.

Buffett has long recommended that investors avoid airline investments because they required significant capital and delivered poor returns.

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 percent full.

Buffett appeared on CNBC after releasing his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders on Saturday.

Buffett says airlines are "a business you can always mess up." But Buffett says he thinks airlines are performing better after "a bad century."

Berkshire Hathaway holds sizeable stakes in American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Continental and Southwest.

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.

Highlighting his wide-ranging CNBC interview:

  • Buffett says the proposed $143 billion offer to acquire Unilever, a deal with links to his company, fell apart quickly because the European company wasn't interested. Buffett said Monday on CNBC that his Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital abandoned Kraft Heinz Foods' bid for Unilever because they were interested only in a mutually agreed upon tie-up, not a hostile takeover. Buffett says it initially appeared that Unilever might be open to negotiating a deal, but once a rough offer was delivered it became clear the owner of Lipton and Hellman's wasn't interested. Buffett says there could have been some misunderstanding in the initial conversations between Kraft Heinz and Unilever.
  • Buffett says the border adjustment tax proposal Republicans are considering would effectively increase the price of imports. Buffett says if retailers like the Berkshire Hathaway-owned Nebraska Furniture Mart has to pay more taxes on imports, that will increase the price consumers pay. But Buffett says he thinks it's likely Republicans will drop the border-adjustment tax proposal because it would be difficult to pass such a dramatic change in tax policy quickly. Buffett says he has a feeling the tax changes Republicans try to pass this year won't be a major overhaul because they are trying to move quickly. Plus, he says lobbyists from every industry will oppose major changes.
  • Buffett is a long-time Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton, but he says he agrees with President Donald Trump on some issues. Buffett says he generally agrees with what Trump says about entitlement programs and Social Security, and some industries do face too many regulations. Buffett says he will judge Trump's presidency four years from now based on how safe he has kept the country, how the economy is doing and on how many people are sharing in the wealth. Buffett says it is a mistake to mix up political decisions with investing ones.
  • Buffett says he's investing heavily in Apple, believing that once consumers begin using the company's products they aren't likely to stop. The billionaire investor said on CNBC Monday that Berkshire Hathaway now holds about 133 million shares of Apple after buying yet more of the company's stock this year. That's more than double stake that Berkshire revealed earlier this month. Buffett's aggressive buying spree at Apple caught many off guard because he has historically steered clear of technology companies. But Buffett says when he looks at Apple he sees a maker of consumer products, not technology. While Buffett says Apple's iPhones are great, he still carries a basic flip phone. 

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InvestingAnalysis
Billionaire Warren Buffett says his company bought more than $9 billion of airline stocks because he believes they are operating more efficiently than they used to.
Buffett, Airline, Investments, Berkshire
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2017-55-27
Monday, 27 February 2017 08:55 AM
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