Warren Buffett Raised Some Cash In Japan, And It’s Probably Gonna Stay There

Warren Buffett Raised Some Cash In Japan, And It’s Probably Gonna Stay There
Theodora Lee Joseph, CFA

21 days ago2 mins

What’s going on here?

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold yen bonds for the second time this year, and there’s little chance the money made will leave Japan.

What does this mean?

Warren Buffett pocketed the equivalent of $810 million in yen by selling Japanese bonds through Berkshire Hathaway. But don’t take that as a sign of retreat: 32 of Berkshire’s last 40 bond deals were made in the Japanese currency, and Buffett himself has made no secret of his fascination with the country’s stocks. In fact, when he last sold Japanese bonds in April, Buffett funneled that cash straight back into Japanese trading houses. No wonder, then, that many expect Buffett to use that stack of yen to double down on his investments in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Berkshire Hathaway stock
Source: Google Finance

Why should I care?

For markets: Currency matters.

If you transferred all your cash into a different currency and back again whenever you went on vacation, the foreign exchange costs would be worth more than a few mojitos. The same goes for investors who buy foreign assets from abroad. So it makes sense that Berkshire buys and sells in yen instead of converting the trades into US dollars, especially when the investment powerhouse wants the flexibility to react to fresh Japanese opportunities. And for good reason: Japan’s decades of falling prices have deflated the country’s stocks, but with corporate reforms and the return of inflation potentially on the cards, that could soon change.

The bigger picture: Cash is king (again).

Buffett is set to make over $6 billion in dividends alone next year, plenty of which is thanks to just three stocks: Bank of America, Occidental Petroleum, and Apple. And even though the Oracle of Omaha has a nearly $160 billion cash pile, Buffett recently cashed out from top-tier stocks including General Motors, UPS, HP, and Chevron. He’s not in a hurry to spend that cash, either, especially since savings-boosting interest rates are nestled above 5%.

Berkshire Hathaway cash pile


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