Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reveals Aon stake, slashes Chevron and Wells Fargo

warren buffett
Warren Buffett

  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway invested in British insurer Aon last quarter.
  • Buffett’s company also boosted its Verizon and Kroger stakes.
  • Berkshire reduced several positions including Chevron, Wells Fargo, and Merck.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a new bet on Aon in a portfolio update on Monday. It also revealed that it took a knife to several positions and virtually eliminated its Wells Fargo stake last quarter.

The famed investor’s company bought 4.1 million shares of Aon, a British health insurer and pensions administrator, in the three months to March 31. It also boosted its Verizon stake by about 8% to 159 million shares – worth over $9 billion at the end of the period. Moreover, it ramped up its Kroger bet by over 50% to north of 50 million shares.

Buffett and his team trimmed several positions, which was expected given Berkshire’s recent earnings showed that it sold $3.9 billion of stock on a net basis last quarter. They slashed their Chevron stake, despite only establishing it last year, by just over half to 24 million shares worth $2.5 billion. They also reduced their pharmaceutical bets – AbbVie, Bristol Myers-Squibb, and Merck – as well as Liberty Global, Axalta, and StoneCo.

Notably, Berkshire cut its Wells Fargo stake from more than 50 million shares to fewer than 700,000. The bank had been one of Buffett’s biggest positions until last year.

The lack of purchases last quarter chimes with Buffett’s comments at Berkshire’s recent shareholder meeting. The investor said he was looking to invest about $80 billion of Berkshire’s roughly $140 billion cash hoard in stocks and businesses, but admitted he was struggling to find bargains in the current market.

Buffett cited the Federal Reserve’s continued efforts to pump liquidity into markets, which has boosted asset prices and fueled competition for acquisitions, as a key factor.

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A last waltz for Yahoo and AOL, and Elon’s crypto comedy show

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:

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Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Serge Gainsbourg’s “Requiem pour un con”


This week: A last waltz for Yahoo and AOL

Yahoo Jerry Yang and David Filo in 2007

With all the big news this past week about Donald Trump’s Facebook account, Apple’s courtroom battle with Epic, and the Bill and Melinda breakup, you might have missed another important development in tech: the sale of Yahoo and AOL.

Iconic is an apt description for both Yahoo and AOL. The companies helped create the internet as we know it today, with decades-long histories that have spanned the administrations of about a half dozen US presidents and just as many transitions of technology standards. (Remember the ubiquitous 3.5 inch AOL floppy discs?)

As Insider columnist Adam Lashinsky writes, the slow decline that befell both companies is the result of a long list of causes. Yahoo’s fall from grace is particularly instructive when you consider all the trends the company recognized early on but never capitalized on, allowing other companies to steal the show. Lashinsky writes:

“It bought a Web 1.0 company called GeoCities that could have been the next MySpace or Facebook but wasn’t. The same goes for Flickr, the preeminent photo-sharing site of its day later outshone by Instagram. It even beat Google to the punch by acquiring the original search-based ad auction company, Overture, only to be overwhelmed by its competitor.”

Read the full story here:

Yahoo escaped a slow death inside Verizon to teach us one final lesson about the internet


Elon’s crypto comedy show

elon musk dogecoin pumping stocks 4x3

Elon Musk, the self-declared Imperator of Mars, is due to host comedy show “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, a must-see TV event that has apparently, and fittingly, fueled a surge in the price of dogecoin – a cryptocurrency that was created as a joke.

As Insider’s Margaux MacColl reports, the venture capital world is getting serious about the crypto boom, especially with the news that Andreessen Horowitz is launching a $1 billion crypto fund.

Of course, there’s a risk that blockchain tech could obviate the need for VCs altogether. Instead of giving away equity in their company in exchange for a venture firm check, a crypto startup could simply issue its own currency through an “initial coin offering” and raise capital all by itself.

Now that’s a crypto joke that VCs might not find very funny.

See also: Elon Musk is pumping stocks, cryptocurrencies, and the energy of 49 million loyal followers to dizzying heights. Experts break down the risks of his incessant tweets, from legal trouble to losses for small investors.


Snapshot: Blast off

It looks like something from a new action movie, but there are no special effects in this video of Britain’s Royal Marines training with a jet pack.

A Royal Marine in a jetpack launches from a fast boat to board a Royal Navy ship.
A Royal Marine in a jetpack launches from a fast boat to board a Royal Navy ship.

The “Jet Suit” made by the UK’s Gravity Industries is still experimental and the British military has not committed to buying the technology. But the video, based on three days of training drills conducted by 42 Royal Marines, offers a fascinating glimpse of how jet packs could be used for military operations.

In the video, a Jet Suit-equipped Royal Marine blasts off an inflatable raft and lands on the deck of a nearby ship. He then throws down a rope ladder to let fellow soldiers board the vessel, part of a maritime operation known as “visit, board, search and seizure.” Trust me, you’ll want to watch this video.


Vernacular watch: “Separation contract”

By now you’ve probably heard that Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, the First Couple of tech, are getting divorced. Instead of a prenup the pair have something called a separation contract, an incredibly detailed private document created without court involvement that couples draw up when they want to live apart. There’s at least $146 billion in net worth at stake, much of it earmarked for philanthropic causes, so while the terms of the contract will likely remain private, the ramifications could be widespread.

Recommended readings:

Google’s new security default for all users is part of its path to eliminating passwords entirely, according to a product exec

Leaked financials: Sequoia-backed grocery delivery unicorn Getir is in talks to raise a pre-IPO round at a $7 billion valuation

Melinda French Gates has an investment firm called Pivotal Ventures that is a quiet powerhouse in the venture industry.

Peloton just recalled its treadmill, but customers reported injuries and safety concerns as early as January 2019

5 top VCs reveal the favorite cybersecurity startups in their portfolios, after investors pumped a record $7.8 billion into the industry last year

Meet Elizabeth Yin, the VC reforming the industry by openly sharing what may be some of venture’s ugliest secrets


Not necessarily in tech:

The wealthy invested in ‘hidden gem’ locations during the pandemic, propelling property prices in smaller cities to new heights


Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

Verizon’s data dreams, denied

Hi and welcome to the Insider Advertising newsletter, where we break down the big news in advertising and media news, including:

Jitters inside Verizon Media Group;

JetBlue picks a new agency;

Peloton malfunctions.

First, we’re seeking nominations for the world’s most innovative CMOs. Submit here.

And, if you got this email forwarded, sign up for your own here.


FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows a Yahoo logo on a smartphone in front of a displayed cyber code and keyboard on December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows a Yahoo logo on smartphone in front of a displayed cyber code and keyboard

Verizon’s privacy problem

Privacy concerns are casting a big shadow over the ad world. It’s top of mind for every advertiser with Apple now limiting access to user data. It’s one of the big presenter buzzwords at this week’s IAB NewFronts, digital media’s big annual showcase.

And it’s loomed over Verizon, which just sold off its media and adtech properties, ending a years-long effort to stitch together its user data with content and tech to take on Google and Facebook for digital advertising.

  • Advertisers expressed frustration way back that Verizon wasn’t delivering on its promise to marry data and content (and they themselves were nervous about the approach backfiring in light of privacy concerns).
  • Verizon also lost its biggest champion of the vision, Tim Armstrong, and ended up writing down the value of its media properties and abandoning its streaming video service Go90.
  • Ultimately, it never dented Facebook and Google’s dominance – Verizon captures just 1% of the digital ad market.
  • “The whole premise was flawed – in the long term you can’t use consumer data without the perception of violating consumer data,” Brian Weiser, global president of business intelligence at WPP’s GroupM, told Insider. “The end of this effort was always very clear.”

It’s not been a great time for other companies that bet big on adtech.


JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neo
JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neo’s with new Mint business class.

JetBlue restarts its engines

JetBlue picked a new Omnicom ad agency as it seeks to cut costs and convince pandemic-weary consumers to return to the skies.

JetBlue is known for its unconventional ads to stand out as a lower-priced alternative. It offered customers discounts for stealing its own bus stop ads or sitting on a flight with a crying baby, for one.

But these are different times, and ones that will likely call for a decidedly different approach to its advertising.

Read the rest: JetBlue hired a new ad agency as it looks to rebrand itself in the pandemic


Peloton Tread+.
Peloton Tread+.

Peloton malfunctions

Peloton is facing backlash after reports that its accidents involving the Tread+ led to 38 injuries and one child’s death.

Bethany Biron spoke with 5 Peloton customers who experienced Tread+ issues dating back to January 2019. From her story:

Cary Kelly, a seasoned marathon runner, says she lost her footing two minutes into a workout on her Peloton Tread+ in May 2019.

When she fell, she says she landed facedown on the treadmill. According to Kelly, the machine then propelled her prone body backward so forcefully her legs broke through the wall. Unable to move, she says she remained stuck in this position as the treadmill belt continued moving beneath her, tearing into her skin on her face and neck.

“It seemed like a million minutes, like I was there forever,” Kelly told Insider.

By the time Kelly was able to extract herself, she says her body was covered in burns and her legs riddled with bone fractures, confirmed by X-ray scans after the accident. Kelly says the injuries made it difficult for her to walk and impossible for her to run for months.

Read the rest here: Some Peloton customers reported treadmill malfunctions, injuries, and safety concerns as early as 2019 – and said Peloton’s response was sluggish


Other stories we’re reading:

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

– Lucia

Read the original article on Business Insider

Verizon sells its media business

Hi and welcome to Insider Advertising for May 4. I’m senior advertising reporter Lauren Johnson, and here’s what’s going on:

If this email was forwarded to you, sign up here for your daily insider’s guide to advertising and media.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Drop me a line at LJohnson@insider.com or on Twitter at @LaurenJohnson.


5G verizon

Verizon just sold AOL and Yahoo for $5 billion, and the new company will be known as ‘Yahoo’ going forward

Read the story.


Kasper Rørsted

Adidas is requiring some ad agencies to pay back more than 10% of their earnings, squeezing small firms

Read the story.


clubhouse:tiktok house 2x1

A startup promised influencers the Hollywood dream, replete with a mansion. But some insiders say its CEO bullied talent, made misogynistic comments, and treated their personal lives like ‘a game.’

Read the story.


More stories we’re reading:

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow! You can reach me in the meantime at LJohnson@insider.com and subscribe to this daily email here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Execs from Snapchat, Verizon, and other top firms explain how 5G could supercharge their industries

holding phone in front of 5G cell tower
Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all offer 5G coverage across the US.

  • The rollout of 5G will affect a broad range of industries, including healthcare, AR, and retail.
  • Execs from Snapchat, Verizon, and other top firms spoke to Insider about 5G’s potential effects.
  • They shared their predictions for how the technology will positively impact their companies.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Even though it is still in the early stages, much attention has been focused on how 5G services will effectively power innovation and increase performance, across a broad range of industries.

Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all offer 5G coverage across the US, and last October, Apple rolled out a lineup of iPhone 12 models, all of which will be compatible with 5G.

The technology follows 4G LTE, which is used for streaming and other data-heavy activities, as well as driving Verizon’s national network, for example. 5G networks are anticipated to be 10 times faster than 4G LTE, as Insider previously reported.

Widespread implementation of 5G is not expected until about 2025 in many developed economies, however, according to a PWC report.

Insider spoke to experts in the healthcare, transportation, augmented reality, and retail industries to see how they will be able to leverage this technology.

1. Healthcare

Amwell telemedicine tablet telehealth
Electronic interaction between doctors and patients has been relied upon as people follow stay-at-home orders.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of telehealth services in an age where social-distancing measures dominate our lives. Electronic interaction between doctors and patients has been relied upon as people follow stay-at-home orders.

With the implementation of 5G, e-health experts and entrepreneurs are increasingly seeing how the new technology has the potential to advance healthcare to the next level. For example, by accelerating the use of augmented-reality applications and robotics to assist surgeons in complex surgical procedures.

Oliver Kharraz is the chief executive and founder of ZocDoc, a New York-based service that helps people book medical appointments. Kharraz said in an interview with Insider: “Investments in infrastructure, including 5G, will ensure that everyone has seamless access to telehealth and faster access to healthcare overall.”

For Kharraz, making a doctor’s appointment shouldn’t require perseverance. It should be a speedy, convenient process, he said, which is a distinct advantage of 5G, due to its super-short latency.

When asked what problems 5G can solve in telehealth, Kharraz said there are three important ways the technology can resolve issues in telehealth: “Bringing consistency to the experience, offering efficiencies, and enabling more and better relationships.”

He said: “Right now, a patient located in an area with spotty connectivity may have to explain a symptom to their provider two or three times and wait through a screen freeze for answers to their questions; that’s not a great experience. In urban areas, many of us take that connectivity for granted but it’s not the reality everywhere.

The proliferation of 5G will introduce additional efficiencies that will allow providers to minimize their efforts on administrative processes, Kharraz added. “For instance, in areas with good online access, appointments can be made online versus on the phone and documents can easily be shared on a patient portal versus a fax machine.”

2. Transportation

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5G has the potential to drastically improve road safety.

5G is poised to revolutionize the transportation industry in two categories – protection and personalization – according to Verizon’s new business incubation VP, Elise Neel.

By protection, Neel refers to the ways in which 5G can drastically improve road safety. Verizon’s partnerships with companies like HERE, a location data and technology platform, demonstrate the possibilities of combining the power of 5G Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) with location intelligence.

Neel said: “One application that was developed leverages HERE’s HD Live Map and HERE’s proprietary Live Sense computer vision technology to create a Vehicle to Network (V2N) communication system that identifies vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and barriers from a vehicle-mounted smartphone.”

The data is then sent in real-time to Verizon’s 5G MEC network, where AI predicts likely travel paths and warns vehicles of impending potential collisions, Neel said.

5G will also enable innovations that help cut congestion by monitoring and controlling traffic lights; alerting drivers of delays; and providing smart parking solutions, according to Neel. She said this will allow cities to personally accommodate individual needs.

Neel believes 5G is paving the way for an array of innovations that will reshape cities, businesses, and society as a whole. “These advances are merging the physical, digital, and biological worlds in ways that create both huge promise and potential disruption,” she said.

3. Manufacturing

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5G should also enable new innovations in manufacturing, including autonomous robots.

Advanced technology through 5G will also enable new innovations in manufacturing.

As information technology and operational technology budgets continue to converge, 5G will assist in the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as factories and systems become more automated and autonomous.

Neel cites the example case of autonomous mobile robots and MEC, which will create new opportunities to upskill workers and facilitate a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines.

Transparent and real-time data sharing can also improve response times, and enable predictive maintenance and inventory analyses, all powered by 5G.

4. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence

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The future of augmented reality and artificial may be impacted by the reliability of 5g networks.

The future of AR and AI depends on the reliability of 5G networks.

Carolina Arguelles Navas, head of AR product strategy at Snapchat, told Insider about the importance of 5G technology for Snapchat since it enables them to create augmented-reality experiences that far surpass anything they were able to do before.

She said: “For example, our famous AR Lenses are usually around 4mb in file size. With 5G, we’re able to deliver Lenses that are around 50mb in file size! It makes a huge difference in the quality, detail, and amount of content that we can pack into each individual Lens, and allows us to deliver these tech-intensive experiences seamlessly to Snapchatters.”

Last year, Snapchat put 5G to the test with the world’s first 5G Landmarker Lens experience, built in partnership with Verizon. Together with Verizon and the band Black Pumas, they transformed the New York public library into an AR concert venue.

“Snapchatters on Verizon’s 5G network could unlock an AR experience at the Library, where Black Pumas’ lead singer Eric Burton put on a psychedelic performance of their hit song ‘Colors’ as a Bitmoji-style avatar.

Arguelles Navas said the company was excited to “continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible as 5G networks become more widely available.”

5. Retail

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Many retailers will be hoping to use 5G to enhance customers’ in-store experience.

When 5G is distributed to enough people, retail operations stand to benefit from incorporating the technology into their business. The technology will be useful for experiences like VR and AR, which retailers can use to enhance their in-store experience, according to Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, an analytics and consulting company.

“From an operational point of view, 5G can be used internally to allow workers to connect to store and company networks remotely via portable devices,” he said.

The potential to further elevate digital communication comes at a time when engaging with consumers through technology has become essential as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Saunders added: “5G will allow retailers to deliver more information to consumers, which will improve customer service. There are many back-end connectivity issues, such as connecting remote sites and warehouses to the retail ecosystem that it could help with.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Warren Buffett and Elon Musk are shaking up markets this year. Here’s a look at the ‘Buffett Bump’ and the ‘Musk Move.’

Warren Buffett and Elon Musk
Warren Buffett (left) and Elon Musk (right).

  • Warren Buffett and Elon Musk are moving markets this year.
  • Berkshire Hathaway’s bets on Verizon and Chevron boosted both stocks this week.
  • Musk’s tweets have lifted GameStop, Dogecoin, Etsy, bitcoin, and other assets.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Warren Buffett famously moves markets with his decisions, as many investors trust the Berkshire Hathaway CEO’s judgment and race to buy what he’s bought and sell what he’s sold.

Other investors anticipate that behavior and rush to take advantage by buying or selling before the Buffett faithful, making the process somewhat self-fulfilling.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has showcased a similar ability in recent weeks, driving stocks and cryptocurrencies skyward with his tweets.

The “Buffett Bump” was on full display this week after Berkshire disclosed multibillion-dollar stakes in Verizon, Chevron, and Marsh & McLennan after markets closed on Tuesday. The telecoms titan’s stock price jumped 5% on Wednesday, while shares in the energy giant and the financial services group rose about 3%.

The rallies added about $19 billion in total to the three companies’ market capitalizations.

Similarly, there have been “Musk Moves” in numerous securities this year. The Tesla chief’s tweets about GameStop, Dogecoin, and Etsy helped to – at least temporarily – drive their prices higher.

Musk’s tweets about the encrypted-messaging app Signal and the techno song “Sandstorm” have been linked to run-ups in entirely unrelated securities.

Moreover, Tesla’s purchase of $1.5 billion of bitcoin this month has been a key catalyst in the digital coin’s latest rally. Musk’s endorsement was hailed as a milestone in mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies.

It’s clear that Buffett’s backing continues to translate into billion-dollar increases in companies’ market values. He  has some competition from Musk, whose stamp of approval has a similar, albeit less precise and sustained, effect on markets too. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Verizon climbs 4% after Warren Buffett reveals nearly $9 billion investment

Warren Buffett Georgetown's McDonough School of Business
  • Verizon rose as much as 3.8% on Wednesday after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway revealed a new stake in the telecom firm.
  • The holding company invested $8.6 billion in Verizon stock through the quarter that ended December 31.
  • Berkshire also opened positions in Chevron and Marsh & McLennan through the end of 2020.
  • Watch Verizon trade live here.

Verizon gained as much as 3.8% on Wednesday after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway unveiled a multibillion-dollar stake in the telecom giant.

The conglomerate revealed it added 147 million of Verizon’s shares to its holdings in the quarter that ended December 31, according to a 13-F filing published Tuesday. The purchase amounted to roughly $8.6 billion in stock.

Buffett also took a $4.1 billion stake in Chevron and established a $500 million investment in professional-services firm Marsh & McLennan through the December quarter.

Berkshire won regulatory approval to keep its three new investments private in its third quarter 13-F filing after arguing it wasn’t yet done building the positions. New investments by the holding company tend to drive share prices higher, as a bullish outlook from Buffett often attracts new investors.

Elsewhere in Berkshire’s portfolio, the firm trimmed its stakes in Apple and Wells Fargo. It fully exited its positions in JPMorgan, PNC, and M&T. Buffett boosted the company’s investments in AbbVie, Merck, and T-Mobile, among others.

Apple remains Berkshire’s biggest single investment. The firm owned roughly 908 million shares at the end of last year. The stake’s value accounts for about 44% of its entire $270 billion stock portfolio.

The new bets on Verizon and Chevron highlight Buffett’s confidence in more traditional sectors to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The legendary investor was optimistic the start of the health crisis, telling investors they should “never, ever bet against America.” While tech giants led the stock market’s initial rebound, investors have since rotated cash to value and small-cap stocks in hopes that vaccinations and new stimulus can supercharge an economic rebound.

Verizon closed at $54.15 on Tuesday, down roughly 7% year-to-date. The company has six “buy” ratings and 11 “hold” ratings from analysts.

VZ
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