Undeterred by the war in Ukraine and U.S. inflation, Warren Buffett has had his largest shopping spree in over a decade, expanding his stakes in Chevron and Activision Blizzard Inc., among others, in net stock purchases totaling $41 billion. The buying spree comes amid Berkshire Hathaway’s first in-person annual shareholder meeting in two years, reports an article in Bloomberg, and reflects just how much cash reserves the company has built up over the last few years.
Though Buffett maintains that he cannot predict which way inflation will go this year or next, his recent investments are of the type that will typically do well in any environment, and indicates a move to get out of cash as inflation rises. Berkshire Hathaway is also easing up on buybacks after spending $3.2 billion to repurchase their own stock. Even with all those purchases, the company’s cash reserves are still $106 billion, more than the margin of safety that Buffett prefers, the article details. Berkshire’s stake in Chevron reached $25.9 billion at the end of this year’s first quarter, while their stake in Activision hit 9.5%. Activision stock jumped 2.5% in the wake of the shareholder meeting.
At the shareholder meeting, Buffett skirted around some major topics, such as the war in Europe, and barely touched on the issue of succession at Berkshire Hathaway, though his appearance was reassuring to many investors. He joked, “If you’re the owner of a company and you’ve got two guys — 98 and 91 — running the company, you’re entitled to actually see them in person.”
In discussing inflation, Buffett said, “It swindles almost everybody.” Indeed, many of Berkshire’s businesses have felt its pressure as demand remains high while expenses increase, the article contends. But some are optimistic, with Jim Weber, the CEO of the Berkshire-owned Brooks Sports Inc stating his belief that “when it normalizes, I think all of this capacity challenge in the supply chain is going to go back to normal. I think some prices may be more attractive because there’s going to be overcapacity.”
Lastly, when asked about Bitcoin, both Buffett and his business partner Charlie Munger once again shared their disdain for cryptocurrencies. Munger called it a “noxious poison” while Buffett said, “It isn’t going to do anything.”