Warren Buffett has said that he underestimated Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos. Now one of Buffett’s deputies is willing to put money behind the tech giant.
Berkshire Hathaway has been buying Amazon shares and the purchases will show up in a regulatory filing later this month, Buffett told CNBC in an interview Thursday. Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive officer, said “one of the fellows in the office that manage money” made the purchases, a reference to investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.
The Amazon stake further cements the relationship between Berkshire and Bezos’ company. Berkshire is a partner with Amazon and Wall Street bank JPMorgan Chase in a health venture. The firms are setting up an independent company to offer health care to their U.S. employees more transparently and at a lower cost.
Amazon’s stock, up 27 percent this year at Thursday’s close, rose 3.2 % in trading in New York Friday.
Buffett said in the CNBC interview that he has been “a fan” of the online retail giant and “an idiot for not buying” shares in the past.
Buffett mostly avoided technology-related stocks over the years, saying he didn’t understand the products and markets well enough. One exception was International Business Machines Corp. His $10 billion investment in the computer giant in 2011 was a curiosity for Berkshire, and it didn’t end well. After taking losses, Buffett had sold nearly all the IBM stock by 2018.
Then in 2016, Berkshire jumped into Apple and has built his stake in the iPhone maker into a holding valued at more than $50 billion. Buffett bought Apple and Amazon when they weren’t at their cheapest. Amazon closed Thursday at $1,900.82 and Apple traded at $209.15. Still, Berkshire ended 2018 with its Apple investment valued more than the cost of buying the shares.
The Omaha World-Herald is owned by Berkshire Hathaway.