“Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and billionaire value investor Warren Buffett said that the conglomerate has sold the entirety of its equity position in the U.S. airline industry,” according to CNBC. “The prior stake, worth north of $4 billion dollars in December, included positions in United, American, Southwest and Delta Airlines.
“’The world has changed for the airlines. And I don’t know how it’s changed and I hope it corrects itself in a reasonably prompt way,’ he said during Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting Saturday, which was virtual this year. ‘I don’t know if Americans have now changed their habits or will change their habits because of the extended period.’
“But ‘I think there are certain industries, and unfortunately, I think that the airline industry, among others, that are really hurt by a forced shutdown by events that are far beyond our control,’ he added.
“Demand for air travel has plunged since March as the virus and precautions like shelter-in-place orders keep potential passengers home. Asked by CNBC’s Becky Quick to clarify if Berkshire had sold all of its airline holdings, Buffett answered ‘yes.’
“He explained: ‘When we sell something, very often it’s going to be our entire stake: We don’t trim positions. That’s just not the way we approach it any more than if we buy 100% of a business. We’re going to sell it down to 90% or 80%.’
“’If we like a business, we’re going to buy as much of it as we can and keep it as long as we can,’ he added. ‘And when we change our mind we don’t take half measures.”
“Buffett reiterated that he admires the airlines and their management teams, but that sometimes there are events like the coronavirus calamity ‘on the lower levels of probabilities that happen’ that necessitate a quick change to an investment.”
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