Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said he isn’t investing in corporate debt, including Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s record offering, because yields are too low.
“We’re not buying corporate bonds of any kind now,” Buffett, 82, said May 4 during an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu in Omaha, Nebraska, where Berkshire held its annual meeting. “Not at those yields.”
Berkshire held $12.2 billion of corporate bonds as of March 31, according to a quarterly filing issued on May 3. That’s down 14 percent from two years earlier. The value of Berkshire’s equity portfolio climbed 54 percent to $97.2 billion in the two years ended March 31 as markets rallied and Buffett added shares of International Business Machines Corp.
Yields on debt from corporate securities to Treasuries have tumbled as the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates and bought bonds to help the economy recover from recession. The payout rate on dollar-denominated company debt fell to a record 3.35 percent on May 2, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. Corporate & High Yield Index. Yields have averaged 5.87 percent during the past decade.
Apple, maker of the iPhone, sold $17 billion of bonds on April 30 in the biggest corporate offering on record. Buffett, who has said he limited investing in technology companies in part because he doesn’t understand them, said the decision to abstain from the Apple offering was part of a broader strategy.
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