Published On: Tue, May 16th, 2017

Key Investor Betting Hard on Airlines


PHOTO: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has bought more stock in American and Southwest airlines. (photo via Flickr/Fortune Live Media)

Problems? What problems?

While the airlines go through a rough patch and must heavily invest in customer service training and procedures, others see no reason not to continue investing heavily in the industry itself.

Like investment guru Warren Buffett, for example.

The Berkshire Hathaway Inc. CEO—who for more than two decades eschewed, and even bashed, investments in airlines—increased his stake in American and Southwest airlines on Monday.

According to Reuters News in a regulatory filing, Berkshire Hathaway said it increased its American stake by eight percent during the first quarter, growing to 49.3 million shares worth $2.08 billion. Meanwhile, it added 10 percent to its Southwest holdings to 47.7 million shares, now worth $2.57 billion.

And despite shedding eight percent of its stake in Delta Air Lines, Berkshire Hathaway still owns 55 million shares worth $2.53 billion there.

READ MORE: Bad PR Not Affecting Airline Stocks

Buffett and Berkshire made no move to increase or shed its sizable holdings in United Airlines, the carrier most beset by problems of late.

Buffett recently told CNBC he is not worried.

“(Airlines) may become like cattle cars … but a significant percentage would rather be treated that way and fly for X (dollars) than have far more leg room (and other benefits) and fly for X plus 25 percent,” he said.

In less colorful terms, Reuters noted that Buffett told shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting on May 6 that he simply likes the new business model: Fewer unsold seats after mergers and acquisitions limited consumer choices; the ancillary fees they charge for baggage, ticket changes, booking and more.



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