Investing Warren Buffett Watch

  Monday, 18 Dec 2017 | 12:31 PM ET

Shares of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway hit $300,000 — each — for the first time

Posted ByLiz Moyer
Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

One "A" share of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway will set you back about $300,000 as of Monday.

The conglomerate's most expensive share class touched that milestone for the first time in the morning before dipping back. It closed trading on Monday at $299,360, up 1.04 percent. It has outperformed the S&P 500 this year — rising more than 22 percent versus the index's 20 percent gain.

One share would get you roughly two of Tesla's most expensive car models available now.

If that lofty price makes you break out in hives, the company's B shares closed trading at $199.34, also up around 22 percent for the year.

Buffett, the billionaire investor, has long refused to split Berkshire's A shares, which are the world's most expensive stock, saying he wanted long-term investors not short-term speculators. Earlier this year, CNBC reported that stock splits are on the decline lately.

Berkshire's per-share book value rose 10.7 percent last year, the company told its shareholders in a letter earlier this year. Over 52 years, this measure has increased 19 percent annually.

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  Friday, 15 Dec 2017 | 9:30 AM ET

Live like a billionaire: The daily habits of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates

You don't have to be a billionaire to live like one.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously wears a grey t-shirt and jeans. All the time. Occasionally, he completes the famous Silicon Valley uniform with a hoodie. By reducing the number of decisions he makes each day, like what to wear, he frees up brain power for more important thoughts and decisions.

Elon Musk is the boss at Tesla and SpaceX, he's also started The Boring Company to hack Lose Angeles traffic by tunneling under the city. It all keeps him next-level busy. So the tech entrepreneur arranges his schedule down to five-minute time blocks to fit as much as possible into each day.

And he's always re-evaluating. "I think that's the single best piece of advice: Constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself," Musk tells Mashable in a 2012 video.

Meanwhile, billionaire buddies Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are both voracious readers. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO spends 80 percent of his days reading and Microsoft founder Gates reads 50 books a year.

"This is a phenomenal time to be a curious person," says Gates, speaking at a Facebook live event broadcast from Columbia University earlier in 2017. "The information that is out there! My biggest problem is that I stay up too late because I am reading and then I am a little bit tired the next day."

To learn the daily habits of other successful legends, including Oprah Winfrey, Ben Franklin and Richard Branson, have a look at the following infographic from MBAnoGMAT.com, a website dedicated to information about online graduate school programs.

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  Friday, 15 Dec 2017 | 3:14 AM ET

Bitcoin buyers should be prepared to lose all their money, top UK regulator warns

Posted BySam Meredith
Andrew Bailey, chief executive officer of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Jason Alden | Bloomberg via Getty Images
Andrew Bailey, chief executive officer of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Bitcoin buyers have been issued a "serious warning" from one of Britain's leading financial regulators.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told BBC's "Newsnight" on Thursday, "If you want to invest in bitcoin, be prepared to lose all your money."

Bailey said a lack of backing from governments and central banks for the world's most popular digital currency was evidence that putting money into bictoin was not a secure investment. He also said buying bitcoin was akin to gambling because it had the same level of risk.

Bitcoin's meteoric price rise has stunned critics and enthusiasts alike, leaving investors scrambling to understand the driving factors for the digital currency's runaway rally.

Bitcoin traded at $17,159 on Friday morning, according to CoinDesk's bitcoin price index. The digital currency has a market value of approximately $291 billion — the largest among the cryptocurrencies. A year ago, one bitcoin was worth around $780.

"If you look at what has happened this year, I would caution people … We know relatively little about what informs the price of bitcoin," Bailey told the BBC.

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  Wednesday, 13 Dec 2017 | 7:55 AM ET

Cryptocurrency market now worth $500 billion, more than Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway

Posted ByRyan Browne

The total market capitalization of all digital currencies has surpassed $500 billion dollars for the first time.

As both Ethereum and Litecoin soared to new record highs Tuesday, the combined market value of cryptocurrencies hit an all-time high of $506 billion at about 7:40 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to Coinmarketcap data.

That figure is worked out by multiplying the prices of cryptocurrencies by the total volume of those digital tokens in circulation.

The market has seen unprecedented interest from investors as of late, and is now worth more than the market cap of billionaire Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway, which is currently valued at around $491 billion. The figure is also higher than the combined value of U.S. banks Citigroup and Wells Fargo, which are currently worth $201 billion and $297 billion respectively.

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  Monday, 11 Dec 2017 | 4:44 AM ET

Currency expert says there's one fundamental reason behind bitcoin's runaway rally

Posted BySam Meredith
Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Bitcoin's meteoric price rise has stunned critics and enthusiasts alike, leaving investors scrambling to understand the fundamental reason for the digital currency's runaway rally.

Valentin Marinov, head of G-10 FX research at Credit Agricole CIB, told CNBC on Monday that he was hopeful he now understood the reason behind bitcoin's soaring value.

He predicted further gains for the cryptocurrency before the end of the year.

Bitcoin was up 9.25 percent higher midday Monday ET at $16,427.16, according to CoinDesk's bitcoin price index. The index tracks prices from digital currency exchanges Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Bitfinex.

When asked to explain the driving force behind bitcoin's unprecedented rally, Marinov said: "It is the inherent imbalance between demand and supply. Supply is inherently fixed; it's very much like gold if you wish? At the same time … demand is based on hopes that its value will continue to grow."

Marinov also pointed to an unwavering hope among investors that the digital currency's value appears to be "unlimited."

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  Wednesday, 6 Dec 2017 | 12:07 PM ET

Warren Buffett scores a quick $230 million with DaVita deal

Posted ByLiz Moyer

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway can finally claim a victory in the health-care sector.

UnitedHealth is paying $4.9 billion for a division of DaVita, the kidney dialysis center operator that counts Berkshire as its biggest shareholder, with a 20 percent stake. The one-day paper profit to Berkshire is more than $231 million.

The deal is for DaVita Medical Group, which operates 300 clinics and a handful of outpatient surgical centers in six states. It will be folded into UnitedHealth's Optum group, which includes pharmacy benefits, data analytics, clinics, surgical centers and home care.

The rest of DaVita will be left to focus on the kidney care business. It says it will use the proceeds of the sale to buy back stock and pursue other investments.

Berkshire began investing in DaVita in 2011. The stock has been a favorite of Berkshire portfolio manager Ted Weschler, who has a personal stake in the medical services company of 2.2 million shares, according to FactSet.

But it hasn't always been a slam dunk. At the end of 2011, DaVita shares traded at about $38, rising to $75 by the end of 2014. But they are down 20 percent since then, closing on Tuesday at $60.93.

DaVita shares jumped more than 10 percent after the deal was announced on Wednesday.

Berkshire has dabbled in health care in the past with mixed results. It was once an investor in UnitedHealth and WellPoint but sold off those shares in 2010, around the time the Affordable Care Act was transforming the health insurance landscape. It also once held a big stake in Johnson & Johnson but pared that back over the years.

The health industry is scrambling to respond to the growing threat of Amazon.com, the e-commerce giant that is said to be exploring a move into the pharmacy business. That potential competitive threat is partly the reason behind CVS Health's $69 billion deal to buy Aetna.

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  Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 | 5:49 PM ET

New York's Sen. Schumer says BofA stock purchases proof tax reform will fail

Posted ByLiz Moyer
A Bank of America branch in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
A Bank of America branch in New York.

Bank of America announced Tuesday that it plans to buy back another $5 billion of its stock through the middle of next year, and that is proof enough that tax reform is bound to fail, according to New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer.

The bank had already planned to buy back $12 billion of its shares, and word about the extra purchases helped lift its stock price in early morning trading before it fell back.

Bank of America is buying back the stock, after getting approval from the Federal Reserve for the plan, after generating extra money by selling a U.K. cards business and after Berkshire Hathaway converted warrants to shares.

U.S. banks have been required to get Fed approval for share buybacks and dividend payments since the central bank began stress testing them after the financial crisis to make sure they had enough capital on hand to weather a severe downturn.

But Schumer says the buyback plan just underscores how major corporations are likely to use the tax cuts they are due under the tax reform being pushed by Republican members of Congress. That is to say, they won't be using their windfalls to expand business and create jobs.

"Big corporations can smell the huge tax cut they have coming, and rather than raising workers' pay or hiring new workers, they're buying back stock and prepping huge dividend payments," Schumer said in a statement. "CEOs have made no secret of their intention to spend a coming tax windfall on executive bonuses, stock buybacks and dividends."

A Bank of America spokesman didn't want to comment on the senator's view.

The markets normally view dividend payments and buybacks as a good thing. Bank of America's biggest shareholder, billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, converted crisis-era warrants into common shares of the bank this summer after the bank boosted its dividend.

Assuming it isn't needed to fund the immediate needs of the business or can't be put to better use acquiring something, buybacks are one way for a company to use extra cash, Buffett said in his annual letter to shareholders this year.

"Both American corporations and private investors are today awash in funds looking to be sensibly deployed," Buffett said in the letter. "I'm not aware of any enticing project that in recent years has died for lack of capital."

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  Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017 | 11:00 AM ET

Katy Perry and Warren Buffett apparently gabbed about cryptocurrency

Posted ByLiz Moyer

If bitcoin's soaring price hasn't convinced you a bubble in cryptocurrency is forming, perhaps celebrity Instagram can.

On Wednesday the pop music superstar Katy Perry posted a photo for her 68 million Instagram followers of her face to face meeting with Warren Buffett, during which she says she asked for the Oracle of Omaha's thoughts on cryptocurrency. The post has more than 111,000 likes so far.

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  Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 | 11:49 AM ET

Here's who really runs Amazon — and only 2 of the top 38 execs are women

Posted ByEugene Kim
Getty Images | Alex Wong

It's a big week for Amazon.

Cyber Monday and the mass of online shoppers brought another record high in Amazon's stock price, while in Las Vegas, the company's cloud computing business kicked off its annual re:Invent conference.

Amazon's 2017 rally lifted Jeff Bezos' net worth past $100 billion on Friday, and he now towers over Bill Gates and Warren Buffett on the list of the world's richest people.

With so much going on inside Amazon, including the hunt for a second headquarters location, CNBC decided it was a good time to find out who are the power players at this sprawling company.

We tracked down an organization chart, which is available internally but not to the public.

One immediately noticeable fact is that Amazon, like so much of the tech universe, is a company run by men. Specifically white men.

In marketplace, Prime and AWS, or what Bezos likes to call the three pillars of the business, there are 37 people under the CEO who report directly to him — or are one layer removed — with at least the title of vice president. Only two of them are women.

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  Monday, 27 Nov 2017 | 9:05 AM ET

Retail stocks climb on the heels of Black Friday, record Cyber Monday expected

Posted ByLauren Thomas

In the wake of Thanksgiving weekend, what marks the start of the holiday shopping season, retail stocks are rallying on upbeat sentiment around preliminary sales results.

Shares of Macy's, J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart and Target, among others, were all climbing Monday morning.

Macy's stock was up about 1 percent, and Penney's shares were climbing nearly 2 percent. Big-box retailers Wal-Mart and Target's shares increased by less than 1 percent.

"We walked away from the start to the holiday shopping season more bullish than we had anticipated as it appears that roughly 65% of consumers made a purchase (online/store) this year with 15% incremental versus last year with a weighted average spend of $420," Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom wrote in a note to clients.

Apparel retailer Gap, which has already been called out by multiple analysts over the weekend for the strength of its Old Navy and Banana Republic Black Friday deals, saw its stock climb more than 3 percent Monday morning.

"GPS was a traffic winner this weekend, with strength at both Gap and Old Navy," Jefferies analyst Randal Konik wrote in a note to clients. Konik added that Gap remains one of his "top picks for the holiday."

Cyber Monday is now expected to mark the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, according to Adobe Insights, which measures 80 percent of digital transactions from 100 major retailers.

Online sales are expected to surpass $6.5 billion Monday, an increase of more than 16 percent when compared with last year, Adobe said.

Meantime, Amazon's sales continue to balloon, and GBH Insights has predicted the e-commerce giant rung up as much as 50 percent of all online purchases on Black Friday. Analyst Daniel Ives said Amazon had an "eye-popping" performance, even prior to Cyber Monday.

Amazon shares were climbing around 2 percent Monday morning.

Following a successful Black Friday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' net worth has now surpassed $100 billion. Bezos, the world's richest man, is followed on the list of wealthiest people by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

To be sure, many analysts still say there's one retailer neck and neck with Amazon, and it's based in Bentonville, Arkansas.

"Our survey results showed Wal-Mart (when combined with Jet.com) is not only a powerhouse among discount retailers, but in close competition with Amazon when measuring online traffic only," Grom said.

With Monday's gains, the S&P 500 Retail ETF (XRT) has lost roughly 6 percent in 2017.

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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.