Why Warren Buffett, flip phone user, loves investing in Apple

Berkshire Hathaway's 2017 Tax Reform Windfall Insurance Losses From Hurricanes Younger Executives Promoted

Investor Warren Buffett says Wall Street's lust for deals has prompted CEOs to act like oversexed teenagers and overpay for acquisitions, so it has been hard to find deals for Berkshire Hathaway.

Michael Toth, a data scientist at Orchard Platform and a former portfolio analyst at BlackRock , has made an effort to read Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder letters for personal growth as an individual investor.

Buffett's annual investor letter on Saturday showed that Apple was Berkshire's second-largest holding with a market value of $28.2 billion, behind Wells Fargo (WFC) at $29.3 billion and ahead of Bank of America (BAC) at $20.7 billion.

He said much of that gain was due to the tax-reform bill. That said the pearls of wisdom he drops along the way are well worth picking up.

"We are at a huge competitive disadvantage in American business" relative to other industrialized countries because of the costs, Buffett said.

Still, there's one user that Apple has yet to sign on: Buffett himself.

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He says nobody can predict these bad years and that it's a fool's errand to try to time markets.

The three announced last month a venture created to cut health costs and improve services for their USA employees.

Buffett said he keeps his hands off investment decisions by Combs and Berkshire's other investment deputy, Ted Weschler.

That last requirement proved a barrier to virtually all deals we reviewed in 2017, as prices for decent, but far from spectacular, businesses hit an all-time high.

Insurance and reinsurance premium float continues to build at Berkshire Hathaway and investing that float drives significant income, $1 billion in the fourth-quarter alone.

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Buffett said Berkshire functions like a savings account, so it doesn't pay dividends. He became the controlling shareholder of Berkshire in the 1960s.

Buffett said he believes Wells Fargo will get through its problems with misconduct and government penalties.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Buffett said that his company has "bought more Apple than anything else" in the a year ago.

Berkshire owns almost 10 percent of Wells Fargo's stock, its largest stock holding. Book value per share, measuring assets minus liabilities, rose 23% in 2017.

If the formula changes, Berkshire would buy back its stock at a higher price than the current formula allows.

Buffett was also asked on CNBC about Berkshire's investment in the generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. For the full-year 2017 insurance investment income passed $3.9 billion for the firm, up approximately $300 million on the prior year. The prize money for the bet was being held in Treasury bonds, which five years into the wager were trading at a yield/maturity of 0.88%.

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