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Warren Buffett walks the floor ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 3, 2024. 

David A. Grogen | CNBC

OMAHA, Nebraska — Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway cut its gigantic Apple stake in the first quarter as the “Oracle of Omaha” continued to downsize his one-time favorite bet.

In its first-quarter earnings report, Berkshire Hathaway reported that its Apple bet was worth $135.4 billion, implying around 790 million shares. That would mark a decline of around 13% in the stake. Apple was still Berkshire’s biggest holding by far at the end of the quarter.

This is the second quarter in a row that the Omaha-based conglomerate has trimmed the stake in the iPhone maker. It sold about 10 million Apple shares (just 1% of its massive stake) in the fourth quarter. This filing, when accounting for the change in Apple’s stock price, would imply Berkshire sold about 116 million shares.

Buffett became a big fan of Apple after one of his investing managers Ted Weschler or Todd Combs convinced him to buy the stock years ago. Buffett even called the tech giant his second-most important business after Berkshire’s cluster of insurers.

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Many has speculated that the 93-year-old investing icon reduced his favorite stake due to valuation concerns. Apple’s stock gained a whopping 48% in 2023 as megacap tech shares led the market rally. At its peak, Apple ballooned in Berkshire’s equity portfolio, taking up 50% of it. The shares are trading at more than 27 times forward earnings.

Shares of the iPhone maker got a big boost in the past week after the firm announced that its board had authorized $110 billion in share repurchases, the largest in company history. However, Apple posted a decline in overall sales and in iPhone sales. The shares are down more than 4% so far this year amid concerns about how it will revive growth.

It’s not without precedent that the Berkshire CEO would adjust the Apple bet. He sold a bit of the stock in the fourth quarter of 2020, but Buffett admitted then that it was “probably a mistake.” Also it’s not usual for Buffett to trim a position that has grown so large.

Even with the sale, Berkshire is still Apple’s largest shareholder outside of exchange-traded fund providers.

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