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Buffett Signals Shift on Long-Standing Tech Stance With Big 4Q Apple Bet

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. increased its bet on Apple by more than 200% in the fourth quarter, upping its position in the iPhone maker to a whopping $6.6 billion as of December 31. Warren Buffett's big move came just ahead of a major 2016 turnaround for Apple. The big Apple bet also signals a shift for Buffett, who has stayed away from tech stocks for decades.

Berkshire held 57.4 million Apple shares at the end of 2016. Those shares would now be worth roughly $7.74 billion based on the tech giant's Tuesday closing . Berkshire BRK.A shares rose 0.8% yesterday, and it is up 0.10% after early Wednesday trading to $250,673.

Apple Inc. AAPL shares rose 1.3% Tuesday to $135.02. Ahead of the Berkshire announcement, the tech company on Monday closed at an all-time high as anticipation for the 10 th anniversary iPhone continues to grow.

Apple's stock is up 15% since the beginning of 2017. Now, on the back of Buffett's faith and its own growth, Apple looks poised to build on its already stellar 2017.

The tech giant took a bit of dive when its first quarter 2016 earnings report showed iPhone sales fell year-over-year for the first time in the smartphone's nearly 10-year history. Berkshire first announced it invested in Apple in May 2016 , around the same time Apple stock had hit a two-year low.

Ted Weschler and Todd Combs, Buffett's right-hand men, pushed for the first Apple play . Apple shares rose nearly 4% the day Berkshire's initial stake was made public. And Apple's stock has been on the rise ever since.

Buffet and Berkshire had previously stayed away from technology companies because Buffett was not as familiar with the space. But Weschler and Combs, who are in line to take over all of Berkshire's investments when Buffett steps down, seem to have convinced the "Oracle of Omaha" that Apple is a solid investment.

Berkshire's big Apple bet came along with news that it made major investments in Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV), American Airlines Group, Inc. (AAL), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL) and United Continental Holdings, Inc. (UAL) in the fourth quarter. Yet another signal that Berkshire is moving outside of its comfort zone, as Buffett had a decades-long stance that airlines were money-losers.

It is no secret that Buffett and Berkshire love to invest long-term. Buffett has famously said, "our favorite holding period is forever." And this must come as great news for Apple.

However, since 1992, only two of Berkshire's ten biggest investments have remained , Coca-Cola KO and Wells Fargo WFC . But the company now owns a third, GEICO. Berkshire's market value has grown by 2,300% since '92 when the Omaha, Nebraska-based company first began to skyrocket into the behemoth it is today.

Still, even if Berkshire doesn't actually hold a company forever, it bets on companies it thinks have staying power. Apple has once again reached an elusive $700 billion market value, after becoming the first publicly traded U.S. company to do so in February 2015. And Berkshire now owns over 1% of Apple.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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