By Trevor Hunnicutt and Jonathan Stempel
OMAHA, Neb. (Reuters)

Billionaire Warren Buffett has been buying a boatload of Apple Inc shares and on Saturday suggested he would buy even more shares at the right price

At Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s annual shareholder meeting, Buffett credited Apple with developing “extremely sticky” products to which consumers become attached and endorsed Apple’s decision to buy back its own stock, saying it was the technology company’s most productive use of cash.

 

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, walks through the exhibit hall at the company's annual meeting in Omaha
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, walks through the exhibit hall at the company’s annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

 

“We would love to see Apple go down in price,” Buffett said. Berkshire is now Apple’s third largest shareholder, behind Vanguard Group and BlackRock Inc.

“I’m delighted to see them repurchasing shares,” Buffett said, just two days after he revealed having bought 75 million additional Apple shares, and four days after Apple said it may repurchase $100 billion of stock. At the end of 2017, Berkshire had owned 165.3 million shares.

“I love the idea of having our 5 percent, or whatever it is, maybe grow to 6 or 7 percent without our laying out a dime.”

 

A shareholder takes a picture of a drawing of Warren Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha
A shareholder takes a picture of a drawing of Warren Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

 

And Buffett described it as a mistake that he never thought Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com Inc made sense as investments for Berkshire.

Buffett, 87, and his longtime partner and fellow billionaire Charlie Munger, 94, also took pointed questions on China, Wells Fargo & Co, guns, healthcare and their investment choices from shareholders, journalists and analysts at the more-than-six-hour meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

The questions also elicited views on politics from the “Oracle of Omaha” and Munger.

 

Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc arrives at the company's annual meeting in Omaha
Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc arrives at the company’s annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

 

Buffett said it was unlikely that the United States and China would come to loggerheads on trade and believed the countries would avoid doing “something extremely foolish.”

“The United States and China are going to be the two superpowers of the world, economically and in other ways, for a long, long, long time,” Buffett said, and that any tensions should not jeopardize the win-win benefits from trade.

 

A shareholder walks by an image of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger as rubber ducks at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha
A shareholder (R) walks by an image of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger as rubber ducks at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc annual meeting, the largest in corporate America, in its hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

 

“It is just too big and too obvious … that the benefits are huge and the world is dependent on it in a major way for its progress, that two intelligent countries (would) do something extremely foolish,” he said. “We both may do things that are mildly foolish from time to time.”

The Trump administration has drawn a hard line in trade talks with Beijing, demanding a $200 billion cut in the Chinese trade surplus with the United States, sharply lower tariffs and advanced technology subsidies, people familiar with the talks said on Friday.

 

 

Buffett suggested U.S. President Donald Trump should be an “educator-in-chief” on the invisible benefits of trade.

Munger, meanwhile, answered a question on steel tariffs imposed by the White House by acknowledging that U.S. producers are hurting.

 

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