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Warren Buffett brushes off softer iPhone sales, saying Berkshire owns Apple stock for the long haul

  • The billionaire says he understands why Apple's iPhone sales were weaker in the latest quarter
  • Warren Buffett remains confident in the tech giant's stock.
  • Buffett also says he's encouraged by Apple's appetite to buyback its own stock.

Billionaire Warren Buffett told CNBC he understands why Apple's iPhone sales were weaker in the latest quarter and said he remains confident in the tech giant's stock.

"I don't own [Apple] because of what I think the earnings are going to be in the next three months or six months," Buffett said in an interview that aired Friday on "Squawk Box."

Lower-than-expected revenue on weak iPhone sales was a major focus when Apple reported second-quarter results on Tuesday.

Apple CEO Tim Cook blamed the iPhone stumble on consumers holding back on their purchases on rumors of what the next generation device may offer.

Buffett seemed comfortable with that explanation.

"It's very hard to figure out how much people delay their buying of iPhones because of the launch of a new one in six months," Buffett said from Omaha, Nebraska, in advance of Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting on Saturday.

"[But] a lot of people are waiting," he said, drawing an analogy to buying a new car. "If you knew a new car was coming out tomorrow … and you had to pay the same, roughly the same, I don't know what they are going to sell the new [iPhone] at but close to the same for the last year model, you are probably going to wait."

Buffett added he thinks the iPhone is an "incredible consumer product."

In a CNBC appearance in February, Buffett revealed Berkshire more than doubled its Apple holdings a month earlier, giving the conglomerate a 2.5 percent stake in the Apple's outstanding shares.

Buffett said he's encouraged by Apple's appetite for its own stock. Apple also announced this week a $35 billion increase to its buyback program.

"I love the fact that they've repurchased shares," he said. "If I like buying the stock myself, I like the company buying it. I obviously think that it's a good buy if you can buy your own stock. There is no company you should understand better than your own company."

Apple also announced this week that its cash pile increased to $256.8 billion in the quarter, up more than $10 billion from the prior period. Apple keeps most of that cash outside the United States for tax reasons.

Buffett said he's jealous of such a treasure trove: "My guess is that at some point or another that money will end up back in the United States, or most of it."

— CNBC's Becky Quick contributed to this report.

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