Buffett's Berkshire boosts Amazon bet

August 15, 2019 09:41
Berkshire Hathaway said it had 537,300 Amazon shares worth about US$1.02 billion as of June, up 11 percent from March. Photo: AFP/Reuters

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway boosted its stake in Amazon by 11 percent during the second quarter, increasing its bet on the powerful online retailer even as stocks traded near record highs, Reuters reports.

Berkshire said it ended June with 537,300 Amazon shares worth about US$1.02 billion, up from 483,300 shares three months earlier.

It made the disclosure in a regulatory filing detailing the US$208.1 billion of US-listed stocks it owned as of June 30.

Buffett, the world’s fourth-richest person according to Forbes magazine, also drew attention in the quarter from fellow billionaire William Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management revealed a US$749 million Berkshire stake.

Berkshire’s stock price is more than 12 percent below its record high set in October.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate also owns more than 90 businesses such as the BNSF railroad, Geico auto insurance and Dairy Queen ice cream.

Berkshire had disclosed earlier this month that it sold more stocks than it bought during the quarter, suggesting possible concern among Buffett and his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler about valuations.

Wednesday’s filing includes investments by all three without saying who bought and sold what, though Buffett has said Combs or Weschler made the initial Amazon investment.

The biggest investment to exit Berkshire’s portfolio was a roughly US$1.7 billion stake in USG, a wallboard maker acquired by Germany’s Knauf KG in April.

Berkshire’s biggest stock market commitment remains in financial services, where it is the largest shareholder in American Express, Bank of America and Wells Fargo and has a significant stake in JPMorgan Chase, where Combs is a director.

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