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Charlie Munger Calls It Overhyped, but Buffett Owns Billions: Warren’s 3 Big AI Stock Bets


  • Buffett’s partner, Charlie Munger, has long expressed skepticism about the transformative nature of AI, but both he and Buffett have filled their portfolio with major AI stocks.
  • Snowflake (SNOW): The cloud analytics firm is buying up AI businesses to help develop a full suite of tools for businesses to manage their data in the cloud.
  • Amazon (AMZN): The e-commerce giant is deploying AI and machine learning throughout every aspect of its business, online, in the cloud and in its warehouses.
  • Apple (AAPL): The consumer tech giant has put AI inside every facet of products it produces while also developing its own AI chip to help power the vast tasks its products need.
Warren Buffett - Charlie Munger Calls It Overhyped, but Buffett Owns Billions: Warren’s 3 Big AI Stock Bets

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Warren Buffett is the greatest living investor. He steered investors to roughly 3.7 million percent returns since becoming chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A, NYSE:BRK-B) in 1965. That’s a 20% compound annual growth rate or twice the returns of the S&P 500.

Yet Buffett’s secret to success is his partner Charlie Munger. He joined Berkshire in the mid-1970s and became vice chairman in 1978. Together they have been an investment powerhouse. Buffett wrote shareholders earlier this year stating, “Charlie and I think pretty much alike,” so his advice was, “Find a very smart high-grade partner — preferably slightly older than you — and then listen very carefully to what he says.”

So you might expect Berkshire Hathaway to avoid artificial intelligence (AI) stocks. Munger is suspicious of the technology. He told the Zoomtopia conference last month, “I think it’s getting a huge amount of hype. And I think it’s probably getting more than it deserves.” And he told Berkshire shareholders, “I am personally skeptical of some of the hype that has gone into artificial intelligence. I think old-fashioned intelligence works pretty well.” 

Yet Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio is chock full of AI stocks. Many companies utilize AI in some fashion. For example, American Express (NYSE:AXP) uses machine learning and AI to weed out credit card fraud and automate fraud risk decisions. Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) uses AI to develop marketing campaigns. Looking at that way, almost any company can be seen as an “AI stock.”

Rather, the following three stocks are deep into AI development. They account for $164 billion of value in Berkshire Hathaway’s $343 billion total portfolio. Likely, they weren’t bought because they were AI stocks, but you may want to invest alongside Buffett and Munger in them anyway.

Snowflake (SNOW)

Snowflake symbol and logo at the company corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley. SNOW stock.
Source: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

One of Buffett’s biggest direct investments in AI is Snowflake (NYSE:SNOW). The cloud-based analytics software firm is on a spending spree to bring advanced AI and deep learning to the data cloud. Recently, it acquired search company Neeva and open-source app platform Streamlit. It also announced plans to acquire data sorting software maker Applica. 

Snowflake also developed Cortex for users to access and use generative AI to quickly analyze data and build their own AI applications. Through specialized machine learning and large language models, users can now access serverless functions to accelerate their everyday analytics in one location. It’s in private preview mode at the moment but is expected to be made widely available later.

The data analytics company is hot. Revenue grew 37% in the second quarter to $640 million. Snowflake guided for full-year product revenue to finish at $2.6 billion, up 34% from 2022. Yet it also had some $3.5 billion in remaining performance obligations, which represent the amount of contracted future revenue Snowflake hasn’t recognized yet.

Snowflake’s stock is down 22% from recent highs and is up 11% so far this year. The S&P 500 is up 13.5%. The growth trajectory it is on makes getting into this stock now a good opportunity. Buffett has almost $1 billion invested in this data cloud stock or some 0.3% of Berkshire’s total.

Amazon (AMZN)

An image on the Amazon logo on a phone, held in front of a stock chart to represent Amazon stock
Source: Daniel Fung / Shutterstock

Buffett and Munger probably bought Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) because of its enormous e-commerce footprint and Amazon Web Services (AWS), but AI is now part of the company’s very fabric and is being used across all of its services.

Consumers on the website see shopping recommendations powered by Amazon’s AI suggestion tool. Amazon also uses it to spot trends for future product development. Its warehouses are filled with robots picking, sorting and collating orders. The robotics leverage computer vision and AI to recognize and handle millions of items annually.

AWS also widely deploys a comprehensive set of AI services, tools and resources for client use. CEO Andy Jassy told analysts that diverse multinational corporations like Adidas (OTCMKTS:ADDYY) and United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) were using AWS to power their generative AI apps. Amazon also just launched an AI-image generator tool for advertisers. Its Bedrock platform lets customers create conversational agents to deliver personalized experiences based on proprietary data. It can then execute actions resulting from its knowledge base.

The Buffett-Munger dynamic duo owns $1.4 billion worth of Amazon stock, representing 0.4% of Berkshire’s total. The stock previously fell due to Amazon’s data abuse concerns, but the earnings report boosted shares, sending them soaring. The stock is up 9% over the past month, but may still be a bargain. 

Apple (AAPL)

Apple store. Apple Inc. (AAPL) sells consumer electronics, computer software, services and personal computers.
Source: Vytautas Kielaitis / Shutterstock.com

Buffett’s love affair with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) doesn’t require an introduction. He owns so much of Apple stock it comprises 48% of the total, some $177.6 billion worth. Apple is very much an AI stock even if Buffett bought shares because of its dominating consumer-facing tech gadgets.

Siri may be one of Apple’s most visible AI components. Yet CEO Tim Cook told analysts he views “AI and machine learning as fundamental technologies, and [SIC] integral to virtually every product that we ship.”

Cook pointed to Personal Voice, designed to create an automated voice that sounds like you, and Live Voicemail, which displays a live transcription of a voicemail as it’s being recorded in real-time. He also noted the Apple Watch incorporates fall detection, crash detection and electrocardiograms. “These would not be possible without AI,” he said.

Generative AI is becoming deeply enmeshed in Apple’s consumer technology. The Information reported that Apple was spending “millions of dollars a day” to develop new features.

Apple’s A17 Pro chip for the iPhone is one of the biggest developments. Apple says it’s the “fastest mobile CPU.” The chip has six CPU cores that can handle the taxing power required by AI. It can handle up to 35 trillion operations per second. It can process machine learning and AI tasks without connecting to the cloud via an external data center. That provides users with an incredibly fast and positive experience. 

Apple is still a tech titan to be reckoned with. Despite China sales slowing and a warning of flat holiday sales, any weakness in the stock gives investors the chance to get into the company Buffett loves so much.

On the date of publication, Rich Duprey held a long position in KO stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Rich Duprey has written about stocks and investing for the past 20 years. His articles have appeared on Nasdaq.com, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance, and he has been referenced by U.S. and international publications, including MarketWatch, Financial Times, Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cheddar News, The Boston Globe, L’Express, and numerous other news outlets.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2023/11/charlie-munger-calls-it-overhyped-but-buffett-owns-billions-warrens-3-big-ai-stock-bets/.

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