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May 1, 2021, 2:31 p.m. EDT

Buffett defends Berkshire's sale of airline stakes in 2020

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By William Watts

Warren Buffett on Saturday defended Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s /zigman2/quotes/208872451/composite BRK.A -1.82% /zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite BRK.B -1.67% decision last year to sell its stake in major airlines /zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite DAL +0.88% /zigman2/quotes/205037281/composite UAL +1.25% /zigman2/quotes/209207041/composite AAL +0.27% /zigman2/quotes/201071949/composite LUV -0.68% in May 2020 as the industry reeled from the pandemic and share prices were near what would prove to be their bottom.. Airline shares have rebounded sharply following heavy rounds of government aid and as the economy has started to reopen. Buffett, speaking at Berkshire's annual meeting, argued that had Berkshire maintained its stake a potential backlash could have made it less likely the industry would have received generous rounds of aid. The airlines "might very well have very, very, very different result if they'd had a very, very, very rich shareholder," he said. Buffett said Berkshire still has exposure to air travel via its stake in American Express Co. /zigman2/quotes/203805826/composite AXP -2.44% and its ownership of aerospace equipment maker Precision Castparts. "I don't consider it a great moment in Berkshire's history, but we have more net worth than any company on earth," Buffett said, adding that he still doesn't want to own airlines.

/zigman2/quotes/208872451/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 412,729
-7,630 -1.82%
Volume: 1,903
June 18, 2021 4:05p
P/E Ratio
6.26
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$626.85 billion
Rev. per Employee
$681,972
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/zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 274.04
-4.65 -1.67%
Volume: 12.57M
June 18, 2021 4:03p
P/E Ratio
6.23
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$626.85 billion
Rev. per Employee
$681,972
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/zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 44.96
+0.39 +0.88%
Volume: 15.22M
June 18, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$28.76 billion
Rev. per Employee
$231,014
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/zigman2/quotes/205037281/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 54.92
+0.68 +1.25%
Volume: 12.49M
June 18, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$17.77 billion
Rev. per Employee
$206,384
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/zigman2/quotes/209207041/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 22.29
+0.06 +0.27%
Volume: 28.01M
June 18, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$14.30 billion
Rev. per Employee
$168,812
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/zigman2/quotes/201071949/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 55.19
-0.38 -0.68%
Volume: 8.80M
June 18, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$32.64 billion
Rev. per Employee
$160,142
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/zigman2/quotes/203805826/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 158.17
-3.96 -2.44%
Volume: 6.90M
June 18, 2021 4:02p
P/E Ratio
25.95
Dividend Yield
1.09%
Market Cap
$127.06 billion
Rev. per Employee
$599,451
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