Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has notched a $9 billion gain on American Express this year - and made $26 billion on the stock overall

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Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has notched a $9 billion gain on American Express this year - and made $26 billion on the stock overall
Warren Buffett. Bill Pugliano/Getty
  • Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has made about $9 billion on American Express this year.
  • The investor's company has racked up a total unrealized gain of $26 billion on the stock.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has made almost $9 billion on American Express this year, lifting its total unrealized gain on the stock to about $26 billion.

The famed investor's conglomerate owned 152 million shares of the credit-card company at the last count, a position worth $27 billion as of Tuesday's close. Buffett and his team only spent $1.3 billion on the holding, so they've made about 20 times their money on paper, excluding dividends.

American Express stock closed at $177 on Tuesday, just shy of its record intraday high of $180 in July. It has surged by 50% this year as the US economy has rebounded from the pandemic, and the risk of a wave of loan defaults has faded. The stock's ascent has increased the value of Berkshire's stake by $8.6 billion this year.

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Berkshire has been an American Express shareholder for more than 25 years, and hasn't touched its current position since 1998. Yet its stake has ballooned from 11% to over 19% in that period, thanks to the lender's share buybacks.

Buffett is a longtime fan of American Express, and has repeatedly underlined the value of its brand and customer relationships. He plowed 40% of his investment partnership's capital into the business in the mid-1960s, after its stock price halved following the Salad Oil scandal. He also described it as a "one-of-a-kind" company in his 1980 letter to shareholders.

American Express is the third-largest holding in Berkshire's US stock portfolio, after Apple and Bank of America. Those two stocks have climbed 15% and 55% each this year, boosting Berkshire's unrealized gains on them to $100 billion and $33 billion respectively, based on the cost bases detailed in its latest annual report.

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Read more: Warren Buffett expert Robert Hagstrom breaks down the 3 key elements of the investor's 'ultimate money mind' - and explains why he won't rush to make another elephant-sized acquisition

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