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.


Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

Updated 19 September 2019

Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei's Mate 30 will not be allowed to use Google’s Play Store
  • Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
BERLIN: Chinese tech giant Huawei launches its latest high-end smartphone in Munich on Thursday, the first that could be void of popular Google apps because of US sanctions.
Observers are asking whether a phone without the Silicon Valley software that users have come to depend on can succeed, or whether Huawei will have found a way for buyers to install popular apps despite the constraints.
The company has maintained a veil of secrecy over its plans, set to be dropped at a 1200 GMT press conference revealing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models.
Huawei, targeted directly by the United States as part of a broader trade conflict with Beijing, was added to a “blacklist” in Washington in May.
Since then, it has been illegal for American firms to do business with the Chinese firm, suspected of espionage by President Donald Trump and his administration.
As a result, the new Mate will run on a freely available version of Android, the world’s most-used phone operating system that is owned by the search engine heavyweight.
While Mate 30 owners will experience little difference in the use of the system, the lack of Google’s Play Store — which provides access to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps and games as well as films, books and music — could hobble them.
Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
The tech press reports that this yawning gap in functionality has left some sellers reluctant to stock the new phones, fearing a wave of rapid-fire returns from dissatisfied customers.
Huawei president Richard Yu said at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair this month that his engineers found a “very simple” way to install the hottest apps without going via the Play Store.
Huawei could offer its own app store in a preliminary version, setting itself up as a competitor to the dominant Apple and Google offerings, observers speculate.
Over the longer term, the company could build out a similar “ecosystem” of devices, apps and services as the Silicon Valley companies that would bind users more closely to it.
The world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, Huawei earlier this month presented its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, a potential replacement for Android.
The Mate 30 will not yet have HarmonyOS installed.
But it could make for a new round in the decades-old “OS wars” between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, then Android versus Apple’s iOS.
Meanwhile, Eric Xu, current holder of Huawei’s rotating chief executive chair, has urged Europe to foster an alternative to Google and Apple.
That could provide an opening for Huawei to build up Europe’s market of 500 million well-off consumers as a stronghold against American rivals.
“If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it... that would resolve the problem of European digital dependency” on the United States, Xu told German business daily Handelsblatt.
He added that his company would be prepared to invest in developing such joint European-Chinese projects.