- Warren Buffett made a rare error when he dumped all of his airline stock holdings in April, President Trump said on Friday.
- “He’s been right his whole life, but sometimes even someone like Warren Buffett – I have a lot of respect for him – they make mistakes,” Trump said after a strong jobs report sent airline stocks skyward.
- Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold its stakes in the “big four” US airlines because the famed investor feared passenger numbers wouldn’t rebound and they would be lumped with “too many planes.”
- Buffett also highlighted the fact that the carriers will have to repay the government loans they received earlier this year.
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President Donald Trump called out Warren Buffett in a public address on Friday, saying the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway boss made an error when he dumped all of his airline shares in April.
“Warren Buffett sold airlines a little while ago,” Trump said. “He’s been right his whole life, but sometimes even someone like Warren Buffett – I have a lot of respect for him – they make mistakes.”
“They should have kept the airline stocks because the airline stocks went through the roof today,” he added.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate owned between 8% and 11% of the “big four” US airlines – American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines – at the start of this year. Their shares were up 18%, 9%, 5%, and 13% respectively as of 12:40 p.m. ET.
Trump addressed the nation after the latest Bureau of Labour Statistics data showed the US economy added 2.5 million jobs in May, upending economists’ forecasts of 7.5 million job losses last month. Stocks surged on the news: the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 942 points at the time of writing.
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Buffett revealed his exit from the airlines at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting last month. He justified the sale by saying that he wasn’t certain that passenger numbers would rebound from the coronavirus pandemic in the next few years, raising the possibility that the airlines could be stuck with “too many planes.”
The investor, who has repeatedly criticised airlines as a terrible investment over the years, also pointed out that the carriers would have to repay the government loans they received earlier this year. As part of their bailout deals, the companies also handed over warrants that the government can convert into shares at a fixed price in the future.
Moreover, at least two are raising money by issuing new shares, diluting existing shareholders.
“The world has changed for the airlines,” Buffett said at the meeting. “The future is much less clear to me.”
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