Apple (AAPL) is Buffett’s largest publicly traded holding, representing around 40% of Berkshire’s portfolio by market value.
In the latest earnings conference call, management revealed that the company’s active installed base has surpassed two billion devices.
While competitors offer cheaper devices, millions of users don’t want to live outside of the Apple ecosystem. The ecosystem acts as an economic moat, allowing the company to earn oversized profits.
The company is returning some of that profits to shareholders through buybacks. In the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2022, Apple spent $19.48 billion on share repurchases.
Given the amount of cash that the tech gorilla has, more buybacks could be on the way. At the end of December, Apple’s cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities totaled $165.45 billion.
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American Express (AXP) is the fourth-largest holding at Berkshire Hathaway. Owning 151.6 million shares of AXP, Berkshire’s stake is worth around $26.3 billion.
The company stands to benefit in an inflationary environment.
American Express makes most of its money through discount fees — merchants are charged a percentage of every Amex card transaction. As the price of goods and services increases, the company gets to take a cut of larger bills.
In Q4 of 2022, the company repurchased 4 million of its common shares, reducing the number of shares outstanding from 747 million to 743 million.
Buffett highlighted what American Express and Apple have been doing in the shareholder letter.
“At Apple and Amex, repurchases increased Berkshire’s ownership a bit without any cost to us.”
Chevron (CVX) is one of the big oil companies that gushed huge profits last year.
The company reported earnings of $35.5 billion for 2022, which represented a 127% increase from 2021. Sales and other operating revenues totaled $235.7 billion for 2022, up 51% year over year.
In January, Chevron’s board approved a 6% increase to the quarterly dividend rate to $1.51 per share. The board also approved a new $75 billion stock buyback program.
In 2022, Chevron repurchased nearly 70 million shares for $11.25 billion.
President Biden may not like these numbers, but Buffett probably won’t mind.
According to an SEC filing, Berkshire owned $29.3 billion of the energy giant at the end of December, making it the third-largest public holding of the company.
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