February 28, 2021

What Warren Buffett sees in Verizon that the stock market doesn't

[] Warren Buffett buys shares of Verizon | Fortune© 2020 Fortune Media IP Limited. All Rights Reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our u003ca href="https://fortune.com/terms-of-use/">Terms of Useu003c/a> and u003ca href="https://fortune.com/privacy-policy/">Privacy Policyu003c/a> | u003ca href="/california-privacy-policy/#notice">CA Notice at Collection and Privacy Noticeu003c/a> | u003ca href="https://fortune.com/right-to-opt-out/">Do Not Sell My Personal Informationu003c/a> | u003ca href="http://preferences-mgr.trustarc.com/?pid=fortunemedia01&aid=fortunemedia01_pub&type=fortunemedia">Ad Choices u003c/a>u003cbr />nFORTUNE is a trademark of Fortune Media IP Limited, registered in the U.S. and other countries. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.u003cbr />nQuotes delayed at least 15 minutes. 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","type":"post"},"children":[{"name":"byline","config":{"link":"https://fortune.com/author/katherine-dunn/","name":"Katherine Dunn"},"children":[]},{"name":"image","config":{"aspectRatio":0.6666666666666666,"attachmentId":2953452,"alt":"Climate Package 2021-Home Emissions","caption":"","crops":[],"height":1920,"imageSize":"article-sidebar","lazyload":true,"lqipSrc":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Climate-Package-2021-Home_Emissions2.jpg?quality=60&resize=60,40","postId":2953006,"retina":true,"showCaption":false,"sources":[{"default":true,"transforms":{"resize":[130,86]},"descriptor":100}],"sourceTags":[],"src":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Climate-Package-2021-Home_Emissions2.jpg","srcset":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Climate-Package-2021-Home_Emissions2.jpg?resize=260,172 200w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Climate-Package-2021-Home_Emissions2.jpg?resize=130,86 100w","url":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Climate-Package-2021-Home_Emissions2.jpg","useBasicImg":false,"usingDataFallback":false,"width":2880,"fallbackImageUrl":"data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7","picture":false,"sizes":"100px"},"children":[]},{"name":"byline","config":{"link":"https://fortune.com/author/katherine-dunn/","name":"Katherine Dunn"},"children":[]}]}]},{"name":"advertising-slot","config":{"align":"center","lazyload":true,"useDynamicChannel":false,"placementName":"RightRailFlex_Articles","slotId":"RightRailFlex_Articles1","themeName":"article","targeting":{"placement_name":"RightRailFlex_Articles","index":2}},"children":[]},{"name":"dianomi","config":{"type":"sidebar"},"children":[]},{"name":"advertising-slot","config":{"align":"center","lazyload":true,"useDynamicChannel":false,"placementName":"RightRailFlex_Articles","slotId":"RightRailFlex_Articles2","themeName":"article","targeting":{"placement_name":"RightRailFlex_Articles","index":3}},"children":[]}]},{"name":"article-media","config":{"publishDate":"","type":"image","section":"Newsletters"},"children":[{"name":"image","config":{"aspectRatio":0.6666666666666666,"attachmentId":2954803,"alt":"warren buffett","caption":"Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett is buying shares of Verizon.","crops":[],"height":1920,"imageSize":"article-featured-image","lazyload":true,"lqipSrc":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg?quality=60&resize=60,40","postId":2954795,"retina":true,"showCaption":true,"sources":[{"transforms":{"resize":[750,500]},"descriptor":750,"media":{"min":"lg"}},{"transforms":{"resize":[500,333.34]},"descriptor":500,"media":{"min":"md"}},{"transforms":{"resize":[375,250]},"descriptor":375,"media":{"max":"md"}}],"sourceTags":[],"src":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg","srcset":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg?resize=1500,1000 1500w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg?resize=750,500 750w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg?resize=1000,666 1000w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg?resize=500,333 500w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg?resize=750,500 750w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg?resize=375,250 375w","url":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettyImages-184769358-1.jpg","useBasicImg":false,"usingDataFallback":false,"width":2880,"credit":"Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE","fallbackImageUrl":"data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7","picture":false,"sizes":"(min-width: 64rem) 750px,(min-width: 48rem) 500px,(max-width: 48rem) 375px,100vw"},"children":[]}]},{"name":"article-body","config":{"mediaType":"image","premiumCategory":"P-Newsletter"},"children":[{"name":"gutenberg-content","config":{},"children":[{"name":"html","config":{"content":" u003cp>u003cem>This is the web version of u003ca rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://mynewsletters.fortune.com/data-sheet" target="_blank">Data Sheetu003c/a>, a daily newsletter on the business of tech. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. u003c/em>u003c/p> u003cp>When u003ca href="https://fortune.com/company/apple/" target="_blank">Appleu003c/a> u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2020/10/13/apple-5g-iphone-when-on-sale/">introduced its first-ever 5G iPhonesu003c/a> last fall, CEO Tim Cook gave a lot of stage time to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. Apple fans groaned at the seemingly nonstop advertisements for Verizon in the keynote. But Cook may have been betting that Verizon's strategy to deploy the fastest version of 5G in the world would make the new iPhones look more appealing.u003c/p> u003cp>And at least one Apple fan was impressed by what he saw. Legendary investor Warren Buffett, who is one of Apple's largest shareholders, made a multi-billion dollar bet on Verizon in the fourth quarter. According to a filing made public on Tuesday, Buffett's u003ca href="https://fortune.com/company/berkshire-hathaway/" target="_blank">Berkshire Hathawayu003c/a> u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/17/berkshire-hathaway-apple-chevron-verizon/">bought almost 147 million sharesu003c/a> of Verizon (worth $8 billion at current prices).u003c/p>u003cp>u003c!-- piano selector -->u003c/p>u003cdiv class="paywall"> u003cp>Buffett used to be known for buying stocks of companies in straightforward businesses like banking and soda pop while avoiding tech. "I don't know what that world will look like in 10 years," he u003ca href="https://www.cnet.com/news/buffett-wont-invest-in-tech-stocks/">offeredu003c/a> by way of explanation in 1998. Good timing to miss the Internet bubble.u003c/p> u003cp>But starting about 10 years ago, he changed his mind. Tech had become more integral to business and seemingly more straightforward. Buffett's first foray, though, u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2011/11/14/buffett-goes-big-in-big-blue/">buying more thanu003c/a> 5% of u003ca href="https://fortune.com/company/ibm/" target="_blank">IBMu003c/a> in 2011, didn't turn out so well. Still, the u003ca href="https://fortune.com/company/oracle/" target="_blank">Oracleu003c/a> of Omaha dug in and learned more about tech. His next move, buying Apple as a dominant consumer brand in 2017, was a winner, a huge winner (our headline, "u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2017/02/16/warren-buffett-apple/">Warren Buffett Could Be Wrong About Appleu003c/a>," not withstanding). And thanks to some of the younger stock-picking talent he's brought in, so was the follow up, u003ca href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/03/berkshire-hathaway-has-been-buying-shares-of-amazon-warren-buffett.html">buyingu003c/a> u003ca href="https://fortune.com/company/amazon-com/" target="_blank">Amazonu003c/a> in 2019.u003c/p> u003cp>Verizon, though not classified as a tech stock, is closely related. We mentioned them almost 40 times in Data Sheet last year. The carrier is deep in a race with rivals u003ca href="https://fortune.com/company/att/" target="_blank">AT&Tu003c/a> and T-Mobile to roll out 5G, the next generation of wireless technology that will eventually unleash a host of new applications and business opportunities. But AT&T has mucked up its business by buying a shrinking satellite TV service, not to mention the whole Time Warner thing. And while analysts say T-Mobile has a great future in 5G, its stock price has outpaced the market for several years running.u003c/p> u003cp>Verizon stands apart from those two. It hasn't overspent on unrelated businesses like AT&T. It also hasn't seen its stock run up much like T-Mobile. At Tuesday's closing price of $54.15, the stock is just about where it was trading 21 years ago. That may be in large part because Verizon's sales and net income haven't been growing much either. Both figures were higher in 2015 than 2020, and that's even with the benefit of the massive Trump tax cuts.u003c/p> u003cp>And there are a couple more problems worth mentioning. First, Verizon's super-fast version of 5G that so impressed Tim Cook is only available in limited areas and Verizon's slower but more widespread 5G network is so slow it's worse than 4G sometimes. Also, no hot, new, 5G-required applications have appeared yet, and if 4G history is any indication, Verizon may not be the major beneficiary even when they do. Finally, Verizon needs more airwave spectrum to keep up with T-Mobile in 5G and likely just spent tens of billions of dollars at the latest spectrum auction to do so (the results will be made public soon).u003c/p> u003cp>Buffett and his team may be betting that the stock market has already considered all of the bad news and that 5G will eventually bring more revenue and profits. They can obviously afford to wait.u003c/p> u003cp>Longtime telecom analyst Craig Moffett upgraded Verizon to a "buy" rating in December, saying the stock was "simply too cheap to be ignored." That sounds like just the kind of pitch that Warren Buffett likes to hear.u003c/p> u003cp>u003cstrong>Aaron Pressmanu003c/strong>u003cbr>u003ca href="https://twitter.com/ampressman?lang=en">@ampressmanu003c/a>u003cbr>u003ca href="mailto:aaron.pressman@fortune.com">aaron.pressman@fortune.comu003c/a>u003c/p> u003ch3>NEWSWORTHYu003c/h3>nu003cp>u003cstrong>Where seldom is heard a discouraging wordu003c/strong>. North Dakota senators voted down a bill aimed at forcing u003cstrong>Appleu003c/strong> to u003ca href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/16/apple-wins-victory-as-north-dakota-votes-down-bill-that-would-regulate-app-stores.html">give app developers freedomu003c/a> in choosing their own payments processor. In other legal developments, u003cstrong>Epic Gamesu003c/strong> extended its court battleu003ca href="https://apnews.com/article/europe-a97d32a32fbc5e6c2ecd11b74a89fa0d"> against Apple to Europeu003c/a>, filing an antitrust complaint over the iPhone app store not unlike the lawsuit it filed against Apple in the United States. And New York Attorney General Letitia James u003ca href="https://nypost.com/2021/02/16/ny-ag-james-sues-amazon-over-lack-of-covid-safety-protocols/">filed a lawsuit againstu003c/a> u003cstrong>Amazonu003c/strong> for failing to protect its warehouse workers from the spread of COVID-19. “Throughout this pandemic, Amazon employees have been forced to work in unsafe conditions, all while the company and its CEO made billions off of their backs,” James said in a statement. Amazon, which filed its own lawsuit against the AG last week, said the charges were not accurate.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>Screen dreamsu003c/strong>. The pandemic ignited a buying spree for new computers, but the surprise winner may be u003cstrong>Google’su003c/strong> Chrome operating system. For 2020, devices running ChromeOS gained 4.4 percentage points of market share and captured almost 11% of the market, u003ca href="https://www.geekwire.com/2021/chromebooks-outsold-macs-worldwide-2020-cutting-windows-market-share/">according to datau003c/a> from IDC. u003cstrong>Microsoft’su003c/strong> Windows lost 5 points of market share but still had almost 81% of the market. And u003cstrong>Apple’su003c/strong> Mac computers gained 1 point and had an 8% share. Speaking of pandemic-era winners, u003cstrong>Shopifyu003c/strong> said its u003ca href="https://www.investors.com/news/technology/shopify-stock-shop-shopify-earnings-q42020/">sales almost doubledu003c/a> to $910 million in the fourth quarter. Its stock, up 177% over the past year and at an all-time high on Tuesday, was down 8% in early trading on Wednesday.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>I know what your memo said last night.u003c/strong> The latest hacking attack of note hit global law firm u003cstrong>Jones Dayu003c/strong>. The hacking group known as u003cstrong>Cl0pu003c/strong> posted links to a vast trove of legal papers and emails from the firm u003ca href="https://www.securityweek.com/cybercriminals-leak-files-allegedly-stolen-law-firm-jones-day">on the dark webu003c/a>.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>Chatterbox charlatanu003c/strong>. Count me bearish on the hype about freewheeling audio hosting service u003cstrong>Clubhouseu003c/strong>. Danielle has written u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/01/clubhouse-social-media-voice-audio-elon-musk-invite/">a solid explaineru003c/a> if you’re not familiar with the app that has u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/01/elon-musk-clubhouse-interview-bitcoin-robinhood/">attracted Elon Musku003c/a> and other tech luminaries to chat in public. “Brad Pitt” appeared on Clubhouse on Tuesday to talk about climate change. Why the scare quotes? u003ca href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jessedamiani/2021/02/16/the-curious-case-of-brad-pitt-on-clubhouse/">It wasn’t actually Brad Pittu003c/a>, but New York City photographer Jacob Tran posing as Pitt. Nice. There has been some chatter that Clubhouse will wipe out podcasting. Yikes, but no. In that space, radio giant u003cstrong>iHeartMediau003c/strong> u003ca href="https://www.reuters.com/article/triton-digital-ma-iheartmedia/update-1-iheartmedia-to-buy-triton-digital-for-230-mln-in-podcast-push-idUSL4N2KN2TB">is buying podcasting outfitu003c/a> u003cstrong>Tritonu003c/strong> u003cstrong>Digitalu003c/strong> for $230 million. Meanwhile, u003cstrong>Twitteru003c/strong> is testing allowing users to send u003ca href="https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/17/22287091/twitter-voice-dm-test-india-brazil-japan">short recorded voice messagesu003c/a> as DMs in a few countries.u003c/p>nu003ch3>FOOD FOR THOUGHTu003c/h3>nu003cp>If you live in Texas, we hope you are okay despite the low temperatures and widespread power outages. The problem isn’t due to technology such as too many wind turbines or solar arrays. u003cem>Washington Postu003c/em> energy reporter Will Englund u003ca href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/02/16/ercot-texas-electric-grid-failure/">explains the issue is with the system set upu003c/a> by local lawmakers.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans. It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>It’s a “Wild West market design based only on short-run prices,” said Matt Breidert, a portfolio manager at a firm called TortoiseEcofin.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003ch3>IN CASE YOU MISSED ITu003c/h3>nu003cp>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/17/google-news-publisher-deals-australia-search-results/">u003cstrong>Google’s deals with news publishers may avoid what it sees as a worst-case scenario u003c/strong>u003c/a>u003cem>By Naomi Xu Elegant u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/16/clean-renewable-energy-storage-malta-bill-gates-lithiium-ion-batteries-climate-change-green/">Why clean energy’s future may depend on molten salt, trains, and cranesu003c/a>u003c/strong> u003cem>By Danielle Abrilu003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/16/would-you-take-lower-returns-for-cleantech/">Would you take lower returns for cleantech?u003c/a>u003c/strong> u003cem>By Lucinda Shenu003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/16/product-design-coivd-ideo-walgreens-xbox-zoom/">How COVID made creating new products even harderu003c/a>u003c/strong> u003cem>By Verne Kopytoffu003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/16/utah-porn-filter-law/">Utah advances bill that would require mandatory ‘porn filter’ on smartphones and tabletsu003c/a>u003c/strong> u003cem>By Chris Morrisu003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/15/spacs-z-work-gig-economy-startups-work-from-home/">Z-Work is a new SPAC with an unusual target: The gig economyu003c/a>u003c/strong> u003cem>By Shawn Tullyu003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/02/17/youtube-shorts-tiktok-rival-u-s-debut-short-videos/">YouTube’s TikTok rival is coming to the U.S.u003c/a>u003c/strong> u003cem>By Danielle Abrilu003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>(u003cem>Some of these stories require a subscription to access. Thank you for supporting our journalismu003c/em>.)u003c/p>nu003ch3>BEFORE YOU GOu003c/h3>nu003cp>Tomorrow afternoon at around 2:15 p.m. ET, NASA will begin streaming the approach of its Perseverance Rover to land on Mars. The rover, and its super-cool drone helicopter called Ingenuity, should be safely on the Red Planet by 4 p.m. u003cem>Smithsonianu003c/em> has a great piece u003ca href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/nasas-helicopter-ingenuity-will-attempt-first-flight-mars-180976958/">explaining how the drone was designedu003c/a> and what it will explore if it lands safely. Fingers crossed!u003c/p>nu003c/div>n"},"children":[]}]}]},{"name":"dianomi","config":{"type":"footer"},"children":[]}]}]}]}},"componentData":{},"error":null,"loading":false,"player":{"currentTime":0,"duration":0,"loading":false,"playing":false,"seek":0,"src":"","visible":false,"volume":0.5},"route":{"status":200,"redirectTo":"","redirectStatus":0,"action":"PUSH","pathname":"/2021/02/17/what-warren-buffett-sees-in-verizon-that-the-stock-market-doesnt/","search":"?","hash":""},"visible":{"search":false,"primaryNav":false,"freestar":false,"adminBar":false},"contactForm":{"submitting":false,"submitted":false,"failed":false,"validation":{},"redirect":""},"user":{"isLoggedIn":false,"accessLevel":null}}; ]]> Source

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