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Warren Buffett’s bet on airlines lost more than $700 million in sector sell-off
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Warren Buffett’s bet on airlines lost more than $700 million in sector sell-off

A bet on airline stocks by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway lost more than $700 million in value in a sector-wide rout, fueled by worries of an upcoming fare war between carriers.

The value of the Berkshire’s stakes in United, Delta, Southwest and American was worth more than $11 billion as of Tuesday’s close, but fell by about $727 million in Wednesday’s sharp selloff, based on Berkshire’s latest disclosure of its holdings in November.

Berkshire was not immediately available for comment.

The sharp decline in the airline sector started after United Airlines executives outlined an aggressive expansion plan that outpaced economic growth and that of some competitors. The plan aimed to gain the confidence of investors that the airline could expand its profit margin and increase revenue, but instead stoked fears of low fares and higher costs.

United shares fell more than 11 percent on Wednesday, while American lost 6 percent and Southwest and Delta each shed around 5 percent.

In late 2016, Berkshire revealed a surprise bet on the sector, which Buffett had previously shunned. Years of post-bankruptcy consolidation among carriers and a decline in fuel prices has helped airlines rake in record profits in recent years…

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