For Warren Buffett, sinking Apple shares a wish come true

Buffett in recent years has lamented missing the boat on buying shares in US technology giants. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019
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For Warren Buffett, sinking Apple shares a wish come true

  • Apple’s warning on Wednesday about weak iPhone demand in the holiday quarter due to slower sales in China sent its stock down 7.5 percent during after-hours trading
  • Apple’s stock market value has tumbled to below $700 billion from over $1.1 trillion at its peak in October

SILICON VALLEY: Billionaire Warren Buffett has said he would love to see Apple Inc. shares decline in price so he could buy more. He is getting his wish.
Apple’s warning on Wednesday about weak iPhone demand in the holiday quarter due to slower sales in China sent its stock down 7.5 percent during after-hours trading. Class B shares of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. traded down 2 percent in the same session on Wall Street.
Buffett, the folksy Nebraska investor known more for buying railroads, energy firms and classic American corporate brands than for his acumen picking tech stocks, in recent years has lamented missing the boat on buying shares in US technology giants. He admitted an earlier investment in IBM Corp. was not one of his best.
Yet Buffett has made Apple a centerpiece of his portfolio of other company’s stocks, touting his own use of the Cupertino, California-based company’s products and saying at his annual shareholders’ meeting in Omaha last May, “We would love to see Apple go down in price,” so he could buy more at a bargain.
Buffett sees Apple more as a consumer stock than a tech stock, reflecting the iPhone’s status as a must-have possession for so many people.
Including its after-hours drop on Wednesday, Apple’s stock market value has tumbled to below $700 billion from over $1.1 trillion at its peak in October. Although Apple has fallen behind Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in value, it remains one of Wall Street’s most widely held companies.
Shares of Berkshire itself have held up well even as the broader market sank last quarter. Last year, Berkshire returned 2.8 percent, while the S&P 500 fell 4.4 percent, including reinvested dividends.
But the $3 billion hit to Berkshire’s Apple shares in evening trading on Wednesday could show in future reported earnings. Those figures do not reflect any long-term gains on Berkshire’s investments, and Buffett has encouraged investors to ignore the profit statistic mandated by US accounting practices.


Apple’s Cook to China: keep opening for sake of global economy

Updated 23 March 2019
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Apple’s Cook to China: keep opening for sake of global economy

  • Cook’s comments come as Apple weathers sinking sales in China
  • Despite official pledges and repeated assurances that China would continue to open its markets

BEIJING: Apple chief executive Tim Cook nudged China on Saturday to open up and said the future would depend on global collaboration, as the United States and China remained locked in a bitter trade dispute.
“We encourage China to continue to open up, we see that as essential, not only for China to reach its full potential, but for the global economy to thrive,” Cook said at a China Development Forum in Beijing.
Despite official pledges and repeated assurances that China would continue to open its markets, some analysts worry that its reform project has slowed or even stalled under President Xi Jinping, who has sought greater control over the economy and a bigger role for state-owned firms at the expense of the private sector.
Cook’s comments come as Apple weathers sinking sales in China because of a contracting smartphone market, increasing pressure from Chinese rivals, and slowing upgrade cycles. The company reported a revenue drop of 26 percent in the greater China region during the quarter ending in December.
Before those results came out, in a January letter to investors, Cook blamed the company’s poor China performance on trade tension between the United States and China, suggesting that pressure on the economy was hurting sales in China.