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Buffett says Apple stake boosted to more than US$18b

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc has increased its stake in iPhone maker Apple Inc to about 133 million shares, Chairman Warren Buffett told CNBC.

[NEW YORK] Berkshire Hathaway Inc has increased its stake in iPhone maker Apple Inc to about 133 million shares, Chairman Warren Buffett told CNBC.

That's more than twice as much as Berkshire held as of Dec 31, the billionaire told the cable network in an interview Monday. The stake is valued at more than US$18 billion, based on Friday's closing price of US$136.66.

Berkshire has been accelerating stock purchases in recent months, adding to stakes in the largest US airlines and Apple.

Mr Buffett said the 2017 Apple purchases were made before the company posted quarterly earnings on Jan 31, a report that pushed shares higher than he wanted to pay at the time.

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"Apple strikes me as having quite a sticky product and an enormously useful product to people that use it, not that I do," Mr Buffett said, praising Tim Cook, the technology company's chief executive officer.

"He's been very intelligent about capital deployment."

Mr Buffett said he accumulated about 123 million of the Apple shares, and that one of his deputies acquired the rest. He didn't identify that investment manager.

Apple climbed 0.3 per cent to US$137.07 in early trading at 6.33am in New York. That compares with US$105.26 at the end of 2015. Berkshire disclosed a stake in the first half of 2016 and increased the holding later that year.

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