What Warren Buffett Sees in Berkshire Hathaway's New Amazon Stake

This weekend will mark another “stockpalooza” wherein Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) will host its annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Most investors tend to follow anything and everything that Warren Buffett says. Having been the world’s richest man in many years probably means he knows a thing or two.

While many of the preliminary events and communications are essentially cheerleading events for Berkshire Hathaway and its shareholders, there was a significant issue that has come to light. After having praised the business model of Jeff Bezos and Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Warren Buffett disclosed in a CNBC interview that Berkshire Hathaway has been acquiring shares of Amazon.

While this would seem to stray from the traditional Buffett investment target, and while previously Buffett said he missed the boat even back in 2017 (when shares were less than half the current price), Buffett made it clear that he was not the one who purchased the Amazon shares for Berkshire Hathaway.

In that CNBC interview, Buffett’s commentary was full of praise for Amazon and remorse for not having bought the stock. Here, these have been meshed together for simplicity, and he said:

One of the fellows in the office that manage money bought some Amazon, so it will show up in the 13F later this month. … I’ve been a fan, and I’ve been an idiot for not buying Amazon shares. … But I want you to know it’s no personality changes taking place. … It’s 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. I had no idea that it had the potential. I blew it.

The implication here is that either Todd Combs or Ted Weschler made the decision to acquire Amazon shares. And if it was telegraphed as being in the 13F filing that will be out in less than two weeks, the Combs or Weschler’s acquisition is definitely showing a profit if the shares were purchased during the first quarter of 2019.

Amazon shares opened up 2019 at roughly $1,540, and the high in the first quarter came in late March at close to $1,820. Amazon’s closing price on Thursday, ahead of this disclosure, was $1,900.82, and the shares were up almost 2% at $1,938 shortly after the opening bell on Friday.

Amazon has a 52-week trading range of $1,307.00 to $2,050.50, and Refinitiv lists its consensus analyst target price as $2,163.47, though some analysts have far higher price targets. Amazon has a $956 billion market cap after Friday’s 2% pop and is one of only three companies, along with Apple and Microsoft, to have recently (or ever) had a $1 trillion market cap.

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