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In a surprising move, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway cut its enormous stake in Apple during the first quarter, signaling a shift in the investment strategy of the legendary investor. As per Berkshire Hathaway’s first-quarter earnings report, the Apple bet was valued at $135.4 billion, which translates to approximately 790 million shares. This represents a decrease of around 13% in the stake. Despite this reduction, Apple remained the largest holding in Berkshire’s portfolio by a significant margin at the end of the quarter. This is the second consecutive quarter that Berkshire has decreased its stake in the tech giant, following the sale of around 10 million shares (just 1% of its total stake) in the previous quarter.

During Berkshire’s annual meeting in Omaha, Warren Buffett hinted that the sale of Apple shares was motivated by tax considerations, particularly in light of hefty gains. He also alluded to the possibility of wanting to avoid a higher tax burden in the future if tax rates are increased to address the growing U.S. fiscal deficit. Despite the sale, Buffett emphasized that he is willing to pay his fair share of taxes and encouraged others to do the same. The reduction in the Apple stake could indicate a strategic move by Berkshire to reallocate capital to other opportunities or to address concerns over Apple’s valuation.

Speculation has arisen that Warren Buffett may have trimmed his beloved Apple position due to concerns about the company’s valuation. Apple’s stock surged by an impressive 48% in 2023, driven by the strong performance of mega-cap tech stocks leading the market rally. At its peak, Apple constituted 50% of Berkshire’s equity portfolio. With the stock trading at more than 27 times forward earnings, some investors have raised questions about its lofty valuation. However, Buffett reiterated his confidence in Apple during the annual meeting, suggesting that it is highly probable for Apple to remain Berkshire’s largest holding by the end of 2024.

Despite Berkshire’s vote of confidence in Apple’s future, the tech giant has faced challenges in terms of overall sales and iPhone sales. Apple’s shares have dipped by over 4% this year amid concerns about the company’s ability to reignite growth. However, the announcement of a $110 billion share repurchase authorization by Apple’s board provided a boost to the stock in the past week. This move indicates Apple’s commitment to returning capital to shareholders and instilling confidence in its long-term prospects. Even with the reduction in Berkshire’s stake, the conglomerate remains Apple’s largest shareholder outside of exchange-traded fund providers.

Overall, Warren Buffett’s decision to cut Berkshire Hathaway’s Apple stake has stirred discussions about the rationale behind the move and the implications for both companies. While there may be short-term uncertainties surrounding Apple’s performance, the vote of confidence from Berkshire and the company’s strong fundamentals suggest that the tech giant is well-positioned for future growth and continued success.

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