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Warren Buffett says he avoided bailing out the 'big 4' airlines by dumping their stocks last spring

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 01 May 2021

<p><strong><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5f3e789b42f43f001ddfdf92-2400/ap948207397184.jpg" border="0" alt="warren buffett" data-mce-source="AP Images" data-mce-caption="Warren Buffett"></strong></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><ul><li><strong>Warren Buffett says he avoided a big bill by selling the "big four" airline stocks last year.</strong></li><li><strong>The US government might have refused them aid if Berkshire still owned their stocks.</strong></li><li><strong>Berkshire sold bank stocks to reduce its exposure to the industry, Buffett said.</strong></li><li><strong><strong><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/'hprecirc-bullet">See more stories on Insider's business page</a>.</strong></strong><hr></li></ul><p>Warren Buffett avoided having to bail out the "big four" US airlines by <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/why-warren-buffett-invested-big-4-airlines-sold-them-loss-2020-5-1029167021">selling their stocks</a> last year, he said at Berkshire Hathaway's <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/warren-buffett-charlie-munger-berkshire-hathaway-annual-meeting-live-updates-2021-5-1030373616">annual meeting on Saturday</a>.</p><p>The famed investor said that the federal government might have refused to help Delta, Southwest, American, and United last spring if Berkshire still owned between 8% and 11% of them. US officials might have told them to get the money from Berkshire, which boasted more than $120 billion of cash and short-term investments at the time.</p><p>"You're looking at probably a different result than if we had kept our stock," Buffett said.</p><p>Buffett offered other fresh insights into his thinking at Berkshire's meeting. For example, he explained why Berkshire <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/warren-buffett-sells-jpmorgan-wells-fargo-buys-barrick-gold-2020-8-1029506182">eliminated its Goldman Sachs position</a>, slashed its <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/warren-buffett-berkshire-hathaway-built-8-billion-jpmorgan-stake-slashed-2020-11-1029846193">JPMorgan</a> and <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/warren-buffett-berkshire-hathaway-cuts-wells-fargo-stake-17-years-2020-9-1029566739#">Wells Fargo stakes</a>, and took a knife to several other financial holdings last year.</p><p>"We didn't like having as much money in banks as we had at the time," Buffett said.</p><p>The Berkshire chief also commented on how tight liquidity became before the Federal Reserve stepped in to help last year.</p><p>"They took a market where Berkshire couldn't sell bonds a day before, and turned it into one where Carnival Cruise or whatever could sell them," Buffett said.</p><p><a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/warren-buffett-avoided-bailing-out-big-4-airlines-sold-stocks-2021-5-1030373622#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-parasite-delivered-one-of-the-best-twists-in-cinema-2020-2">What makes 'Parasite' so shocking is the twist that happens in a 10-minute sequence</a></p>
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