Buffett has made billions on his stake in Apple, of which he owns about 2.5% of outstanding shares. The legendary investor doubled his stake in the tech company in January and has said he sees Apple becoming the first trillion-dollar company.
While he was on the subject of righting headlines, Buffett told Quick that the rumors Berkshire was exercising a hostile takeover of Unilever plc (UL) were unfounded. There was a "misunderstanding," Buffett said, and Berkshire withdrew immediately.
Berkshire exercised its right to acquire 700 million shares of Bank of America Corp (BAC) on Tuesday, making it the bank's top shareholder. That more than tripled Berkshire's original investment in Bank of America made in 2011. Buffett has previously said he decided to bet on the bank while in the bathtub.
Buffett recognized Bank of America as a "terrific bank," and added that Wells Fargo (WFC) is as well, despite a string of recent scandals from fraudulent accounts to insurance scams.
Buffett said, "There's never just one cockroach in the kitchen ... That's what used to terrify me at Salomon." Buffett invested $700 million in the now-defunct Salomon Brothers when it was a bond-trading powerhouse ahead of the 1987 market crisis.
Wells Fargo and Salomon shouldn't be compared, Buffett clarified, but putting a spotlight on any company will shine light on more than just one problem.
Buffett later said that the current economy "doesn't feel like a 3% growth economy," but more like a 2% growth economy. He said its "sort of unbelievable that rates have stayed down."
President Trump and his administration have said that the 3% threshold is their goal for GDP growth. Second quarter GDP figures released Wednesday revised estimates to 3% from a prior 2.6% estimate.
Beyond market commentary, Buffett offered insight into the staggering effects of Hurricane Harvey. Buffett said that, although there was some advanced notice to help Texans evacuate, there will be a high amount of uninsured loss.
Berkshire's GEICO insurance covers about 500,000 cars in the area affected by storm damage, representing about 10% of the total vehicles in that market.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we had 50,000 losses and most of them will be total losses," Buffett said. "It's how you perform at a time like this that really defines whether your insurance company is doing the right job."
As for economic effects, Harvey will send shock waves, but perhaps not as large as some estimates predict, Buffett said. "I don't think it'll be a full percentage point for the year or anything like that, but it has a real effect. It destroys wealth."
Buffett told Quick that North Korea is a major issue of concern on a level above the "hundreds" of problems in the country that can yet be solved. "I've been concerned since 1945 when the first atomic bomb was used," Buffett said.
But he's not going to speak out against President Trump, despite many of his cohorts using their platforms to criticize the president.
"I worked for Hillary, I raised money for Hillary, I voted for Hillary," Buffett said. "I was disappointed when she lost. But I'm not in the business of attacking presidents ... I won't say if my candidate doesn't win that I'm going to take my ball and go home."
Buffett appeared in midtown Manhattan Wednesday to attend lunch with a buyer who paid $2.7 million to share a meal with the Oracle of Omaha. The lunch was auctioned off by the GLIDE Foundation.
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