Why Warren Buffett bought Apple Inc

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett

There are very few people who can move markets. But legendary investor Warren Buffett is one of those people.

Buffett's investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway has just announced that the Sage of Omaha has bought a stake of 9.8 million shares, worth $1.07 billion at the time, in tech giant Apple(NASDAQ: AAPL).

Defying comparison

This is particularly interesting, as there's been a lot of talk, both Stateside and in the UK, suggesting that the iPhone maker had peaked. After huge sales of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s, analysts were saying that profitability was likely to fall, along with the share price. Should we now revise our view? Or is Buffett too late to the party?

Apple is one of those companies that defies comparison with any other firm you can think of. It recently reached a higher market capitalisation than any other business in history. It makes more profit than any other listed company on Earth. It has led a revolution in the way consumers live their lives, with hundreds of millions of smartphone and tablet owners around the world.

Yet recently there have been a few disappointments, such as sales of the Apple Watch being lower than hoped-for and iPad sales edging down. However, Apple still arguable has the highest cachet in tech, and no other company, whether it be Samsung, Huawei or HTC, can touch it in terms of brand awareness and the premium consumers are willing to pay over products from other firms.

Classic Buffett

Buffett always used to say that he avoided tech investments because he just didn't understand them. But he broke that taboo with his purchase of IBM shares. And if you are an investor in today's world, technology is so pervasive that it is hard to avoid such companies, particularly if you are searching for growth potential.

And, really, this purchase is classic Buffett. When everyone was talking up Apple, the financial guru steered well clear of the stock. But when the share price fell and shareholders started selling their holdings, he began to build a stake. Apple is certainly not the typical contrarian share, but this is contrarian investing.

Often Warren will not buy the cheapest firm that he can find, but the best company he can find, at the cheapest price. And there is one Buffett quote that, for me, sums up this purchase "It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price."

Yes, the Sage is late to the party. But, if you look at the big picture, the smartphone trend that Apple established still has a long way to go. And in my view, the firms that will do best in today's business environment are those that will sell to the rapidly growing consumer masses of China and India. And that is Apple down to a tee.

Yes Warren, although it pains me to say it, you've done it again.

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Prabhat Sakya has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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