At Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s (BRK.A) annual shareholder meeting last year, billionaire investor Warren Buffett admitted that he made the wrong call in not buying Google, now Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) in their early days. A year after that admission, the 88-year-old CEO and philanthropist, who suggested it was his own revered investing principles and limited technical savvy that led him to pass on the investments, told CNBC one of Berkshire's two portfolio managers has bought Amazon shares. “Yeah, I’ve been a fan, and I’ve been an idiot for not buying,” he said. “But I want you to know it’s no personality changes taking place.” Berkshire's 2019 shareholder meeting is set to begin on Saturday.
Trading up about 2% during pre-market trading on Friday morning at $1,940, shares of e-commerce and cloud computing giant Amazon are up over 26% year-to-date (YTD) and more than 500% in the most recent five-year period.
Bezos Has Done 'Something Close to a Miracle'
In a statement reported on by CNBC last year, Buffett said that when he was weighing investing in Amazon, he failed to come to a conclusion where he really felt that the company's prospects were "far better" than the share price indicated, and therefore stayed on the sidelines.
The legendary investor said he had a "very very very high opinion" of Amazon's founder and leader Jeff Bezos when he first met him, yet he still underestimated the tech visionary. "I’ve watched Amazon from the start. I think what Jeff Bezos has done is something close to a miracle ... the problem is when I think something will be a miracle, I tend not to bet on it," Buffett said at his 2018 annual shareholder meeting.
Buffett told CNBC that his lack of technical know-how caused him to use search engine AltaVista until his friend and fellow business mogul Bill Gates told him to switch to Google. He regrets not being more aware of Google, especially given Berkshire's subsidiary Geico was paying the company "a lot of money" at the time of its initial public offering (IPO).
“it would have been far better obviously if I had some insights into certain businesses,” said Buffett.
Meanwhile, his Omaha-based conglomerate trimmed its Apple Inc. (AAPL) stake in the fourth quarter of 2018, but it wasn't Buffett who did the selling.