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US: Buffett’s Berkshire buys $860m of Amazon shares

 |  May 16, 2019

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway revealed in a regulatory filing that it owned US$860.6 million of Amazon shares at the end of March.

The filing includes investments by Buffett and his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler. While it doesn’t reveal who bought and sold which shares, Buffett admitted earlier this month that the Amazon investment, which would now be worth US$904 million, was made by either Combs or Weschler. He added that he had been “an idiot” for not investing in the eCommerce giant on his own, according to Reuters.

Berkshire has teamed up with Amazon and JPMorgan on Haven, an independent healthcare company that is aiming to fix the nation’s healthcare system, with a focus on reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction.

“We want to change the way people experience healthcare so that it is simpler, better and lower cost,” Dr. Atul Gawande, Haven’s CEO, said in a statement back in March. “We’ll start small, learn from the experience of patients, and continue to expand to meet their needs.”

Berkshire also invests in JPMorgan, increasing its holdings by 19% in the first quarter to 59.5 million shares, which is now worth US$6.02 billion.

Combs and Weschler’s initial investments have signaled Berkshire commitments directed by Buffett, such as its US$32.1 billion acquisition in 2016 of industrial and aircraft parts maker Precision Castparts, as well as a stake in Apple worth almost US$48 billion. Berkshire also owns more than 90 businesses, including the BNSF railroad and Geico auto insurer.

Berkshire will often purchase stocks when buying the entire company is too costly. In February, Buffett noted that prices were “sky-high for businesses possessing decent long-term prospects.”

The filing also revealed that Berkshire increased its stakes in Delta Air Lines, PNC Financial Services Group, and software company Red Hat, as well as paring stakes in oil refiner Phillips 66, Southwest Airlines, and Wells Fargo.

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