Warren Buffett likely suffered a $6 billion blow to his stock portfolio on Monday, as four of his biggest holdings slumped in value during the painful market sell-off.
The investor’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate counts Apple, Bank of America, American Express, and Coca-Cola among its largest positions. Those four stocks fell between 1% and 4% on Monday, wiping about $5.9 billion off the combined value of Buffett’s stakes in those companies.
Berkshire boasted 887 million Apple shares at the last count. Assuming he hasn’t touched that holding, it slid in value by $3.5 billion on Monday. The conglomerate also took a $1 billion hit on Bank of America, a $2.7 billion hit on Coca-Cola, and a $1.1 billion hit on American Express.
The investor’s company also spent $1.3 billion for Coca-Cola stock worth $22 billion today – a roughly 17-fold gain. Moreover, its $25 billion stake in American Express has a cost base of $1.3 billion, and it spent about $15 billion to amass a Bank of America position worth $37 billion today.
Overall, Buffett’s total unrealized gains on those four stocks exceed $150 billion – more than the market capitalizations of Starbucks ($136 billion), IBM ($123 billion), or Goldman Sachs ($120 billion).
Buffett concentrates his money in a few key investments instead of spreading it across hundreds of them, boosting his returns when his bets pay off, but also exposing him to sharper declines. Apple has made up 45% of the total value of Berkshire’s stock portfolio in recent weeks, and the conglomerate’s top five holdings have accounted for 75%.
Both travel-adjacent companies and restaurants were initially decimated when the COVID-19 pandemic first rippled across the US. But now, mass vaccination efforts, financial aid from the federal government, and improved personal finances – such as an increase in savings and low delinquencies – are pushing the return of both industries, Squeri told CNBC.
“They have the money in the bank, they’re ready to spend it, but what was holding them back was not having a comfort about being able to go out,” Jay Bryson, Wells Fargo’s chief economist, told the New York Times’ Ben Casselman in early April. “We’re getting into a critical mass of people that are feeling comfortable beginning to go out again.”
And it seems like now, the US is hitting this critical mass.
“When we look at our travel numbers, travel bookings in May were 95% of where they were in May of 2019,” said Squeri. This was without international travel.
Almost 2.1 million people traveled on June 13, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. To compare, about 2.64 million people traveled the same day in 2019.
This uptick in travel, which could be foreshadowing an impending summer boom, is already being reflected in niche segments of the industry. For example, a rental car shortage is currently plaguing hot destinations like Hawaii, Florida, Phoenix, and Puerto Rico.
And Thor Industries – a major RV maker that oversees brands like Jayco and Airstream – is “pretty much sold out for the next year,” Thor’s president and CEO Bob Martin told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.”
Squeri believes that by the end of this year, the US will have a “full consumer recovery” in terms of travel. “I think globally, we will probably be about 80% of where we were in 2019,” he said.
Similarly, restaurants are also “doing great,” according to Squeri, and expenses are at roughly 85% of 2019 numbers. He also notes that younger patrons are driving this boost in restaurant spending.
“The people that are really spending at restaurants [are] millennials [at] 130% in April of what they spent back in 2019,” Squeri said. “We believe that that’s going to continue to move forward.”
Warren Buffett’s stock portfolio was worth $270 billion at the last count, making it more valuable than Exxon Mobil or Comcast. Around $203 billion, or 75% of that figure, was parked in just five stocks.
Berkshire’s increased stake in Bank of America was worth $39 billion, or 14% of the portfolio. The next-biggest holding was American Express ($21 billion or 7.9% of the total), followed by Coca-Cola ($21 billion or 7.8%) and Kraft Heinz ($13 billion or 4.8%).
“Wow is that concentrated,” Paul Lountzis, a longtime Berkshire shareholder and the president of Lountzis Asset Management, told Insider. “But that has always been his way.”
Indeed, Buffett has repeatedly trumpeted the power of a concentrated portfolio, and warned investors against spreading their bets too much.
“Diversification is a protection against ignorance,” he said at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting in 1996. “It makes very little sense for those who know what they’re doing.”
Buffett added that if someone can analyze and value businesses, it would be “madness” for them to own scores of stocks and put money into their 35th-favorite business instead of their top pick. Diversifying to that extent would most likely hurt their results and increase their risks, he cautioned in his 1993 shareholder letter.
Berkshire’s top five holdings accounted for 74% of its portfolio’s total value at the end of December. That proportion climbed to 75% last quarter after the company slashed its Wells Fargo and Chevron stakes, trimmed its pharmaceutical and financial bets, and exited a couple of positions.
Buffett might concentrate his portfolio even more in the coming months. “He is going back to making very large commitments to stocks he likes the most,” Lountzis told Insider.
Las Vegas is home to one of American Express’ 14 Centurion Lounges, widely considered to be the gold standard of airport lounges because of their high-end offerings including complimentary and meticulous crafted food items and alcoholic beverages.
The lounge is located in the airport’s D gate concourse, home to United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and JetBlue Airways, among others.
Passenger on any airline can access the lounge, however, if they have the American Express Platinum or Centurion card. American Express Delta Skymiles Reserve cardholders can also use the lounge when flying Delta or a Delta-marketed flight.
I had a six-hour layover in the airport so I headed straight to the lounge. Departing passengers are normally only allowed to enter within three hours of their flight but connecting passengers are exempt from that rule.
Here’s what it was like inside the Las Vegas Centurion Lounge.
I checked into the lounge using digital check-in via the American Express mobile application and was given a QR code to show the agent. I only had to show my boarding pass and identification as the agent saw my check-in on her end.
Within seconds, I was inside one of the most exclusive clubs in Las Vegas. Greeting me was this portrait of a dog resting on an American Express trunk accompanying two black armchairs, a staple of the Centurion Lounge that can be found in every location.
The lounge was moderately crowded and employees, as a result, were escorting guests to particular seats to help ensure distancing.
I was asked if I wanted to sit in one of the main seating areas….
Or the dining area. I chose the former to take advantage of the more comfortable seating.
I was traveling alone so I was given one of these cushioned cubbies, complete with my own table.
Capacity in the lounge is limited due to the pandemic so certain seating areas are blocked.
Along the wall where I was sitting, for example, every other cubby was blocked.
It created an extra degree of privacy and meant I had more room to store my bags, and another table to hold my laptop while I ate lunch.
Once I got settled, I headed over to the buffet to get something to eat. These lounges are known for having good eats with menus crafted from local chefs. Chef Kim Canteenwalla had designed this menu.
The offering was quite extensive and better than what I’d seen in competing airline lounges even before the pandemic. Light options included a chopped bacon, lettuce, and tomato salad…
Butternut squash soup…
And mango cranberry couscous.
Hot items included kale pesto pasta…
And chimichurri fingerling potatoes.
And for desert, peach cobbler was on offer.
Healthier options included fruits like apples, pears, and bananas. Cookies and honey mustard pretzels were also on offer but not many snacks were available other than that.
All in all, it was some of the best airport food I’ve ever had. Every item was bursting with flavor and made for a great meal.
And of course, the full bar is another big selling feature of the lounge as drinks are complimentary.
The main bar was closed but this makeshift bar still did the trick. Most common cocktails can be ordered at the bar but American Express’ in-house mixologist, Jim Meehan, also crafts specialty drinks for each location.
One such drink was the “air mail,” a sparkling wine drink with rum, honey syrup, and lime juice.
Plexiglass partitions were also erected at the bar for social distancing.
After having lunch, I walked around the more than 13,000 square foot space. American Express just recently renovated the lounge and it showed.
The decor was very modern and very Las Vegas. It made me feel like I was in the heart of the Strip despite only being at the airport.
Large sections of the lounge were blocked off but other sections included a sprawling conference table and more private seating.
These lounges often lend themselves well to social distancing with high-walled chairs since privacy is a huge draw for discerning travelers.
There are even private phone rooms that are enclosed for maximum privacy.
I also discovered somewhat of a hidden room in the back of the lounge.
It didn’t have any windows but was well-lit and has its own television.
The lounge’s family room was, however, off-limits due to the pandemic.
Roped-off areas were opened once the lounge was sufficiently crowded. It wasn’t uncommon before the pandemic to see these lounges filled to the brim.
Departure information screens could also be found throughout the lounge so passengers could stay up to date on the status of their next flight.
Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy one of the seating areas near the window as a variety of aircraft can be spotted.
Hot beverages were also available with multi-beverage coffee machines capable of making anything from a standard cup of coffee to espresso, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and anything in between.
A selection of teas was also available with hot water.
Visiting this lounge made my six-hour layover go by in what felt like an instant.
The only downside is that it closes at 3 p.m., at which point the only other lounge available to passengers in the terminal is The Club LAS.
But for the few hours I got to spend in the lounge, I can say that it will become a staple on my future visits to Las Vegas.
The renovations and superior offering make it a jewel in the Centurion Lounge network.
Warren Buffett is winning big from the flight to value stocks ahead of the global economy reopening this summer. The famed investor’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate has notched an astounding $17 billion in gains across only five stocks this year.
Buffett’s company is up $9 billion on Bank of America alone. The banking group’s stock price has surged 30% since the start of January, boosting the value of Berkshire’s enlarged stake from $30 billion to $39 billion.
Moreover, Berkshire has scored a $3.7 billion gain on American Express, as the financial-services group’s stock has jumped 30% this year. It has also made $1.5 billion on Kraft Heinz, $1.4 billion on General Motors, and $1.3 billion on US Bancorp in under three months.
Buffett’s bets on five Japanese trading houses last fall are delivering too. Itochu, Mitsui, Marubeni, Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo shares have gained an average of 26% this year, lifting the combined value of Berkshire’s holdings by $1.6 billion.
Other Berkshire investments are outperforming as well. Chevron, Suncor Energy, and Synchrony Financial have all climbed more than 20% this year, while Wells Fargo – previously one of Berkshire’s biggest holdings – has rallied 37%. Meanwhile, the benchmark S&P 500 index is up 5.8% this year.
However, Berkshire’s gains have been partly offset by the recent exodus from tech stocks. Apple – which makes up more than 40% of Buffett’s US stock portfolio – has slumped 7% this year. The decline has wiped close to $8 billion off the value of Berkshire’s stake.
Berkshire has also taken a hit from Coca-Cola, leaving its shares worth about $900 million less today than at the start of January. The company’s also down about $400 million on both Snowflake and Verizon.
Buffett’s signature approach of sniffing out high-quality, undervalued businesses and investing for the long term is finally paying off. Yet if growth stocks do take off again, his Apple wager will likely flourish. It appears Buffett’s found a way to have his cake and eat it too.
American Express opened a new Centurion Lounge at Denver International Airport in February, the latest in the financial services company’s growing network of 14 airport lounges that will soon include locations in London and Washington, DC.
The Denver location covers more than 14,000 square feet above the airport’s Concourse C and is Amex’s second-largest lounge behind the newly-opened John F. Kennedy International Airport outpost. Its opening comes as increased spring and summer travel appears more likely thanks to a faster than anticipated vaccine rollout.
American Express now boasts the only true non-airline premium lounge in Denver, which until February only featured airline clubs and a USO location. Airline lounges have lagged behind private lounges in bringing back popular amenities, as Insider found during visits to the airport lounges of the top three US airlines, with this new location offering travelers a better alternative.
Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders, as well as Delta Air Lines flyers with the Delta American Express Reserve card, can access the lounge and use it when departing from or connecting through Denver. Travelers whose final destination is the Mile High City, however, cannot use it upon their arrival.
Lounge patrons are also limited to a three-hour stay per American Express policy. Prior to the pandemic, these lounges were often filled from wall to wall, and they may soon be again.
Take a look inside the Denver Centurion Lounge.
Walk to the western edge of Concourse C at Denver airport and you’ll find the Centurion Lounge. You can’t miss it as the American Express name is displayed for all in the terminal below to see.
It’s quite literally at the furthest reach of the airport, located at the far end of the concourse that’s the furthest from the main security checkpoint. Real estate at Denver airport, however, isn’t easy to come by for lounges so Amex had to take what it could get.
Guests can check-in at the main desk with their boarding pass, credit card, and identification, or use the American Express mobile application for contactless check-in.
Frequent Centurion Lounge patrons might notice something different about this lounge upon entry, and that’s because the Denver location doesn’t have the iconic blue door.
Here’s the blue door at the newly-opened lounge at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, for example.
But the similarly iconic living wall is still in place, filled with live plants.
The seating area is arranged in a horseshoe pattern above the concourse, with floor-to-ceiling windows on each side to give an open feeling.
A total of 587 patrons can be accommodated in normal times but COVID-19 restrictions in Denver only permit a maximum of 150 people at any time.
More patrons will be allowed in as Denver’s guidelines loosen, however.
Lounge chairs and couches line the interior windows, with seats blocked for distancing.
Larger tables are reserved for groups of three or more, to be seated by the lounge hosts.
The lounge does include a family room but it’s largely off-limits during the pandemic.
One of the staples of the Centurion Lounge is complimentary alcoholic beverages and the Denver lounge doesn’t disappoint.
This craft beer bar, one of two bars in the lounge, only serves up local brews.
Even if patrons are just passing through Denver, they’ll still get a taste of the local flavor. American Express’ mixologist, Jim Meehan, crafts a menu that’s specific to each destination.
The craft beer bar is located in the lounge’s game room featuring billiards, shuffleboard, and other tabletop games. like chess and checkers.
The games can be played during the pandemic but accessories are strictly controlled by staff, who also ensure they’re sanitized after each use.
Amex opted for the game room instead of a spa or fitness center.
Classic cocktails can also be ordered but the one drink that isn’t on the menu, however, is the “blue door” since this lounge doesn’t have the blue door.
Construction wasn’t drastically altered due to the pandemic as lounges are already built with privacy in mind.
Some of the solo seats were either spaced already or came with high, pandemic-friendly dividers.
But there are changes in the service. Literature in the lounge, for example, has gone digital.
Plexiglass partitions can also be found at check-in and at the bars.
And any food has to be served from lounge staff.
For business travelers, amenities include a small business center with a printer…
And a conference table.
For private phone calls, the lounge also offers one phone room.
The second bar is located at the bottom of the horseshoe, opposite the check-in area.
This is where most of the cocktails will be crafted, also at no cost to patrons.
Centurion cardholders, AmEx’s “black card,” also receive special perks like Veuve Clicquot champagne.
Digital flight information signage can be found throughout the space so passengers can keep an eye on their flights without leaving the lounge.
The dining area then features classic tables, chairs, and benches for when it’s time to enjoy a meal.
Those wanting to plane spot from the lounge would be ideally seated by the window.
The dining area windows face south and overlook the Southwest gates below. Just across the ramp is the sprawling United Airlines concourse.
On the menu for lunch on the day of our visit was chestnut soup, grilled chicken with salsa verde, Pomodoro di pasta, tiramisu, and berries and cream.
Plates are served on trays and given to patrons.
My tour was after hours but I did manage to sample some of the food, including the Tiramisu. True to reputation, the meal didn’t disappoint.
The lounge also offers a pasta bar during the afternoon and a Nutella crepe bar for breakfast.
Coffee and tea can be found at one of these stations, spread across the lounge. An attendant will also serve the drinks as well.
Overall, this lounge is a great reason to get to the airport early.
The pandemic hasn’t impacted the iconic Centurion Lounge service too much and nothing beats free food and drink while at the airport.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Centurion Lounge without this iconic scene. This chair and art pair can be found at Amex lounges across the network.