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Buffett firm exits airline stocks amid $49bn loss



Investor Warren Buffett. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Investor Warren Buffett. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg


Investor Warren Buffett. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Billionaire US investor Warren Buffett said his company Berkshire Hathaway completely exited its stakes in the four major US airlines, as the coronavirus pandemic pushed the vaunted investment firm to a $49.7bn (€44.8bn) quarterly loss.

The sales of shares of Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines made up most of the company's $6.5bn (€5.8bn) in equity sales in April.

During his live-streamed annual meeting at the weekend, Mr Buffett said the industry has fundamentally changed following the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

He declined to blame the performance of the airline executives, saying they've done a good job of raising money to get through the crisis.

"The world changed for airlines and I wish them well," Mr Buffett said on Saturday.

He clarified that he made the decision and that he lost money on his investments: "That was my mistake."

Mr Buffett has had a complicated relationship with the airline industry over the years.

After a troublesome investment in USAir, Mr Buffett joked he would call an 800 number to declare he was an "air-o-holic" if he ever got the urge to invest in airlines again.

Then in 2016, Berkshire dove into the industry again, amassing stakes in the four largest US airlines.

At the end of 2019, those amounted to almost $10bn.

Mr Buffett's renewed faith in the industry prompted speculation he one day might own one of the carriers. But now he's cut those investments again.


Irish Independent