Buffett dismisses coronavirus, widens Delta Air Lines stake

'Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful'

Warren Buffett followed his own advice and scooped up shares of Delta Air Lines, which have been hit hard amid worries that travel will slide amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“Be fearful when others are greedy," the billionaire investor has famously said, and "be greedy when others are fearful.”

Shares rallied on the news and provided a temporary boost to Delta rivals American and United.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
DAL DELTA AIR LINES, INC. 40.30 +0.20 +0.49%
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP, INC. 20.07 +0.34 +1.75%
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS, INC. 44.76 +0.22 +0.49%

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Buffett spent $45.3 million on 976,507 shares of Delta on Thursday, according to a regulatory filing on Monday, paying an average price of $46.40.

The largest single investor in the Atlanta-based carrier, Berkshire now owns 71.9 million shares, or about 11.2 percent of the company.

Delta shares have plunged 24 percent since Jan. 20, the day the coronavirus was first reported to have spread outside of China. The outbreak has caused the airline, and its competitors, to cancel flights to China, Hong Kong, Venice and elsewhere, in addition to waiving change fees for flights to international destinations.

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Delta shares fell 19.4 percent this year through Monday, worse than the S&P 500’s 4.4 percent drop.