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Investing Warren Buffett Watch

  Friday, 17 Mar 2017 | 9:37 AM ET

Billionaire investor Marc Lasry shares how he's playing markets right now

Posted ByLeslie Picker

Buy on the prospect of deregulation. Sell on the enactment of deregulation.

That's the strategy that billionaire investor Marc Lasry is implementing, according to an interview with CNBC in Las Vegas on Thursday. He said that the market has priced in deregulation, and by the time actual legislation is executed, it will not be as much as "everyone thinks it is."

Still, because of the excitement in the market over things like tax cuts and loosening banking regulation, he has very little cash on the sidelines.

"We're probably today, more invested than we've ever been," said Lasry, who spoke on the sidelines of the Forbes Shook Top Advisors Summit. "Short term, we think it's all going to be positive."

Lasry, who supported Hillary Clinton in her bid to become president, said some of the deregulation being discussed could be "good for business; it may not be good for people."

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  Friday, 17 Mar 2017 | 8:32 AM ET

Wells Fargo CEO: We will 'reassure' our investors — including Warren Buffett

Since its massive fake accounts scandal broke last year, Wells Fargo has been looking to assure customers that it's back on the right track. One very big shareholder factors significantly into that effort: Warren Buffett.

The billionaire Oracle of Omaha is the bank's biggest shareholder through his firm Berkshire Hathaway, which has a 9.6 percent stake in Wells Fargo worth nearly $28.5 billion.

In the past, Buffett publicly has stated that the bank made "a huge mistake" that led to the scandal. Wells had to pay a $190 million fine related to employees creating accounts for customers who never requested them.

On Friday, Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan said Buffett was absolutely correct.

"He's been very direct in terms of some of the mistakes that we made," Sloan told CNBC in an exclusive interview. "I agree with him. We had an incentive program that drove the wrong behavior."

Though he has expressed his displeasure not only with the sales scandal but also the way the bank handled it from a public relations standpoint, Buffett has stood firm in supporting Wells Fargo. He has not sold any of his company's shares.

However, that doesn't mean Wells executives aren't conscious of keeping Buffett and other stakeholders happy going forward. Sloan said he's spoken to Buffett three times since becoming CEO.

"I don't know if I'm going to be able to do anything to assure him," Sloan said. "I think our performance is going to reassure him as to whether or not he should continue as our largest shareholder."

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  Wednesday, 15 Mar 2017 | 12:31 PM ET

Apple’s growing service business could make stock less of a bumpy ride, analyst says

Apple App Store
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Investors should buy Apple on the potential in the tech company's expanding services business, said an RBC analyst, who kept the shares at outperform and raised his price target.

The growing services business, which Apple intends to double in four years, could reduce the laser focus of investors on the phone replacement cycle each year, wrote Amit Daryanani in a note on Tuesday.

"It's the ecosystem, not just hardware," he wrote.

Daryanani estimates that the largest components of Apple's services business are currently:

  1. The App store (3.9 percent of total revenue)
  2. iTunes/Apple Music (2.5 percent)
  3. AppleCare (1.9 percent)
  4. Licensing and other services like iCloud (2.7 percent)

Shares of Apple were up 20 percent year to date as of Tuesday's close after first-quarter earnings reflected higher-than-expected iPhone sales. The stock's movement still largely depends on iPhone sales.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, which tends to favor businesses with steady revenue streams, more than doubled its stake in the company in January.

Apple shares year-to-date performance

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  Monday, 13 Mar 2017 | 11:20 AM ET

Barack Obama meets with Warren Buffett in Omaha

Posted ByMack Hogan
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to recipient Warren Buffett during a ceremony to present the awards at the White House in Washington February 15, 2011.
Larry Downing | Reuters
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to recipient Warren Buffett during a ceremony to present the awards at the White House in Washington February 15, 2011.

Former President Barack Obama stopped off in Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday to meet with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

Obama had lunch with Warren and Susie Buffett, an unannounced visit that involved no press corps. There's no official word on what the former president discussed with the Buffetts.

"I'm not going to talk about the meeting," Susie Buffett told the Omaha World-Herald. "The three of us ate lunch."

According to the World-Herald, the meeting was not a fundraiser. Obama is currently raising money for his presidential library, but this meeting wasn't focused on that.

Read more at the Omaha World-Herald.


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  Thursday, 9 Mar 2017 | 12:34 PM ET

The world's billionaires are now worth $8 trillion

Posted ByRobert Frank
Wang Jianlin (L), chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, shakes hands with Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group last April.
ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images
Wang Jianlin (L), chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, shakes hands with Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group last April.

The world's billionaires are now worth $8 trillion, greater than the GDPs of Germany and France combined.

According to the latest Hurun Global Rich List, published by the China-based Hurun Report research unit, there are now 2,257 billionaires in the world — up 3 percent from last year.

Their combined fortunes jumped 16 percent over 2016, to the equivalent of 11 percent of the world's annual GDP. Their wealth was also larger than every country's individual GDP, other than the U.S. and China.

"Billionaires are concentrating wealth at a supercharged rate," Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report's chairman and chief researcher, said in a statement.

Indeed, the number of billionaires has exploded over the past five years, rocketing 55 percent higher. Because much of the world's wealth is hidden or difficult to find, the actual number of billionaires may be closer to 5,000, Hoogewerf said.

"While some billionaires go to extraordinary lengths to conceal their wealth, for the most part it is that they are discreet and prefer operating under the radar," he said.

China once again led the U.S. in the sheer number of billionaires, 609 to 552. China added 41 net new billionaires last year, while the U.S. netted an additional 17. (Forbes says the U.S. still has more billionaires, due to different methodologies and information). Combined, the two countries account for half the billionaires on the planet, according to Hurun.

While Bill Gates and Warren Buffett still hold the top spots with $81 billion and $78 billion respectively, Amazon's Jeff Bezos is closing in fast. Hurun said his net worth jumped 37 percent last year to $72 billion.

The richest man in China is businessman Wang Jianlin and his family, worth $30 billion, followed by Alibaba's Jack Ma and family at $29 billion, Hurun said.

Two-thirds of the world's billionaires are self-made rather than inherited, according to the report.


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  Wednesday, 8 Mar 2017 | 10:29 AM ET

David Tepper on Apple: Warren Buffett 'made a better trade' than I did

Billionaire investor David Tepper told CNBC on Wednesday that Warren Buffett turned out to be right to buy Apple since late last year.

Tepper's Appaloosa Management trimmed its Apple stake late last year, according to the hedge fund's fourth quarter 13F filing with regulators.

Meanwhile, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway was buying Apple at the end of last year through Jan. 31, when the tech giant reported earnings, Buffett revealed on CNBC last month.

Berkshire has amassed about $18 billion of Apple stock.

On Wednesday's "Squawk Box," Tepper said Buffett "made a better trade than me" on Apple, acknowledging the stock has been "up since we trimmed it."

Tepper said he decided to sell some Apple shares during 2016's final quarter because of worries about China exposure.

"We were a little concerned about what China policy might be in the beginning of the year," said the founder of Appaloosa, which has $17 billion in assets under management.

"We were waiting for that shoe to drop with China," he continued, "and it never did."

Asked whether he's looking to add back shares of Apple, Tepper said not at $139 each, where the stock was trading mid-morning Wednesday.

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  Tuesday, 4 Apr 2017 | 12:11 PM ET

Warren Buffett's favorite CEO annual letter is not his own. It's from this guy.

Posted By Tim Mullaney, special to CNBC.com

Everyone reads Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett's shareholder letters for guidance on management, but to whom does Buffett turn for business wisdom? JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon.

The 60-year-old Dimon is, perhaps, less cuddly than the 86-year-old Oracle of Omaha, and Dimon's shareholder meetings aren't a weekend-long extravaganza highlighted by Dairy Queen. But, like Buffett, Dimon uses his often quite long annual shareholder letters to muse about the best way to manage companies and, of course, to manage banks specifically.

Dimon's latest letter to JPMorgan shareholders was released on Tuesday, and included some comments on how Trump's agenda may benefit the U.S., without naming Trump specifically. In it the bank CEO muses on issues far afield the core bank business — the future of the United States and some of the societal forces he thinks are holding the nation back.

Dimon points to expensive wars (trillions of dollars since 2001), runaway student loan debt (up from $200 billion to $900 billion since 2010), felony convictions (20 million) for minor offenses and an "alarming" number of advanced degrees in STEM fields (40 percent) being awarded to students who have no legal way of remaining in the United States.

"Any one of these non-economic factors is fairly material in damaging America's effort to achieve healthy growth," Dimon writes.

But the JPMorgan chief also opines on plenty of core bank issues in this year's letter, including what he believes is as much as a trillion-dollar opportunity lost in the mortgage market.

Here are some of Dimon's best lessons from over the years for business leaders.

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  Tuesday, 7 Mar 2017 | 10:53 AM ET

A secretly powerful voice in business says hedge funds are ‘wolves’ that damage typical US investors

Posted ByLeslie Picker

The question posed was, "Who Bleeds When the Wolves Bite?"

It's the title of an evocative paper written by Leo Strine, the chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. By wolves, he means hedge funds, and his answer, found within a 113-page paper set to be published next month in the Yale Law Review, is that average American investors are the ones getting bit by the existing corporate-governance system.

While little known in circles outside the highest ranks of corporate America, Strine's voice is among one of the most powerful in the business community. That's because two-thirds of American companies are legally based in Delaware, meaning corporate litigation often takes place in that state, so his opinions on such topics can hold tremendous sway.

Strine's paper is one of the strongest repudiations to date of hedge-fund activism — or what critics of the industry describe as the practice of investors with major stock holdings aggressively forcing companies into changes that will quickly pump up stock prices, often without regard for those same companies' long-term health.

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  Monday, 6 Mar 2017 | 12:48 PM ET

Hedge fund managers think they should make more money even though most don't beat the market

Posted ByLeslie Picker

Hedge funds, as a group, have a lower return than straight-up market indexes do. But professionals in the industry surveyed late last year still expected to take home better pay in 2016 than they did in 2015 — and an even greater portion think they deserve more.

A majority — 53 percent — of those surveyed said they expected to produce higher overall earnings for themselves in 2016 compared with 2015, according to the 10th annual Hedge Fund Compensation Report. That proportion is slightly lower than the year before, where 56 percent said they were expecting an increase in total compensation.

And during a time where the industry has caught the ire of many investors — including Warren Buffett, who last week described the industry's fee structure as "obscene" — an even greater percentage of fund managers reported being unsatisfied with their compensation for the year. Sixty-one percent of respondents aren't happy with what they made.

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  Monday, 6 Mar 2017 | 10:19 AM ET

Here's why Warren Buffett thinks you should buy a home

When it comes to homeownership, there are people who think it's "an escalator to wealth" and others who claim it's "the American nightmare."

What does self-made billionaire Warren Buffett say? His advice is to buy.

Real estate is a valuable asset "for a great many people," particularly for families that plan on being in the same location for many years, he tells CNBC: "If you know you're going to live in a given area, or think it's very likely, for a considerable period of time and you've got a family, the home is terrific."

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About Buffett Watch

  • Warren Buffett is arguably America’s most-admired and most-followed investor. Buffett is the largest shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the world’s most famous and most generous philanthropists. Legions of investors - from all walks of life - follow Buffett's homespun investment philosophy: invest in what you know, invest in value. Here on CNBC.com's Warren Buffett Watch, we’ll keep you up to date on what the “Oracle of Omaha” is doing by following Buffett's trades, words and deeds.