Apple stock gained on Monday after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed that it had snapped up more than 9.8 million shares in the first quarter. Buffett’s investment comes around the same time activist investor Carl Icahn unloaded his entire Apple stake.
Berkshire buys Apple stock for the first time
According to CNN Money, this is the first time Berkshire has invested in the iPhone maker. Berkshire paid approximately $109 per share for its Apple stake, pegging the firm’s total investment at around $1.1 billion at the time it was made. Apple was the only new position taken during the first quarter by Berkshire, according to the firm’s latest 13F filing.
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Apple stock climbed 3.48% to $93.67 per share during regular trading hours today, but it still remains significantly lower than the per-share price paid by Berkshire, which means the investment is in the red for now. The iPhone maker’s shares hit a new 52-week low last week, and Alphabet overtook the company in the race for the largest market capitalization, although Apple took back the title this week.
Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission also reveal that Omega Advisors, headed up by Leon Cooperman, entered Apple again during the first quarter, snapping up a $25 million stake over a year after unloading a bigger position. David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management unloaded its position in the iPhone maker during the first quarter.
Berkshire picking up on Tech?
Berkshire Hathaway has historically avoided tech investments, although the firm has been gradually upping its position in IBM over the last few years. That position is now worth $12.3 billion after the firm added nearly 200,000 more shares to it. The Apple stake marks only its second major tech investment and comes around the same time the firm is being reported as considering backing a consortium of investors in making a buyout bid for Yahoo’s core assets.
Warren Buffett has made it no secret that he did not understand the Technology sector and has argued against Tech stocks in the past, saying that it’s difficult for companies to defend their competitive advantages, reports The Wall Street Journal. Instead, he has favored insurers, industrials, financial, and major brands like Coca-Cola. The legendary value investor told The WSJ in an email that either Todd Combs or Ted Weschler made the investment and that they don’t consult him before making investments.
Buffett buys Apple stock as Icahn unloads
Berkshire’s move stands in stark contrast to a move by Carl Icahn. Late last month, Icahn said his firm had exited its stake in Apple, which it held for years. Interestingly enough, he blamed China rather than slipping iPhone sales which have been front of mind for much of Wall Street. In the March quarter, the company recorded its first sales decline since 2003.
Before exiting Apple, Icahn owned almost a 1% stake. The activist investor said he raked in approximately $2 billion and that if things start looking up again for Apple in China, he would get back into the stock.
Apple transforms into a value stock
There’s been talk for quite some time that Apple is no longer a growth stock but rather now a value stock, and Buffett’s interest certainly backs this view as he is considered one of the world’s most respected value investors. Value investors favor companies with strong cash flow and dividends and experienced management at times when Wall Street is shunning them, and as Quartz notes, this description aptly describes Apple.
We heard last week that the company appears to be working on something big, based on its rapid ramp in research and development spending, and that one day we will no longer refer to it as “the iPhone company.” All the rumors about an electric car seem to fit well with this view, and if Apple is indeed working on transforming itself from mainly a smartphone maker into something else entirely, it may one day return to growth status. For now though, the company seems to fit firmly into the value stock category.