In mid-May, Warren Buffett made big news with a major splash into the Amazon equities pool. On May 15th Berkshire Hathaway added Amazon stock to its books for the first time. Berkshire executed a mammoth $904 million acquisition of the retail giant’s shares. That investment has performed well over the last two months. But not nearly as well as the bitcoin price.
Here’s how much the Oracle of Omaha lost by investing in Amazon instead of bitcoin.
On the day Berkshire Hathaway completed its acquisition, Amazon stock (NASDAQ: AMZN) traded for $1871 at market close. Two hours before the market close Thursday, Amazon shares were priced at $1957, beginning to rally from the day’s earlier losses as the market dipped from $1980 per share at the opening bell.
That’s not a bad return for Warren Buffett’s investment over two months. Since May 15th, Berkshire’s stake in Amazon grew from a value of $904 million to $945 million. That’s a 4.6% return on investment and a cool $41.55 million profit for Berkshire’s shareholders.
But if Buffett’s major asset managers had plowed that investment into bitcoin on May 15th instead, they would have made a lot more.
On May 15th the bitcoin price peaked after a 14-day bull run to $8,250. Then it traced an ascending wedge pattern to just past $8,800 at the beginning of June, pulled back to the low $7,500s until mid-June, and launched to the $13,000 level before the end of the month. In July the bitcoin price has had a bumpy ride between key support at $9,500 and resistance at $12,000.
As Amazon stock traded for $1957 on the NASDAQ at 2 PM EDT Thursday, bitcoin was trading on digital currency exchange Coinbase for $10,540 USD. That’s a 27.75% return on investment for bitcoin since mid-May, versus Amazon’s 4.59% return- 604% more ROI for the “hodlers.”
If Warren Buffett had made like Tim Draper or the Winklevoss brothers, and acquired $904 million worth of bitcoin on May 15th, his investment would have grown to $1.15 billion instead of $945 million. Instead of $41.55 million profit over the last two months, Berkshire Hathaway could have made $250.93 million.
So, by choosing to invest in Amazon instead of bitcoin, Warren Buffett left more than $209 million on the table. Buffett’s investment advice is nearly without parallel in history, but by calling bitcoin “a delusion” he shows he’s either delusional himself, or just talking his book. Berkshire is full of legacy finance companies that stand to lose a lot to open source finance.
Last modified: January 10, 2020 3:30 PM