The investing guru says don’t bet against America, but his actions selling airlines and most of his Goldman stake suggest it’s best to hedge your bets.
Just as some U.S. states begin to reopen and try to mend the virus-stricken economy, Warren Buffett delivered a harsh reminder that things may be anything but normal for a long time.
The crisis has spooked America’s forever optimist so much so that he’s fled the airline industry entirely, and now even certain automobile and banking stocks, according to a regulatory filing Friday detailing Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s investing moves for the first quarter. This included dumping 84% of Berkshire’s stake in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and reducing its JPMorgan Chase & Co. position by 3%. Buffett, 89, said proudly just two weeks ago that he thinks “nothing can stop America,” but it’s getting harder to believe him.
While Buffett made his about-face on airlines known during Berkshire’s atypically morose shareholder meeting two weekends ago, the near-exit of Goldman was the latest shocker. Shares of the investment bank dipped 2% in late trading and are down more than 25% for the year. Occasionally, some big Berkshire investment decisions have been made by Buffett’s deputies, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler; however, Buffett said exiting airlines was his call, and it’s fair to assume that selling all that Goldman stock wouldn’t happen without his blessing. Of course, we don’t know exactly when in the first quarter those sales were made, but they raise a red flag nonetheless.