The move comes amid massive recent share buybacks by AXP, which is putting record amounts of cash to work by reducing the float on its stock. Bloomberg notes the company made it a point to say that Berkshire is not buying more shares:
“This is an application to continue to retain American Express stock, not to buy additional shares,” Marina Norville, a spokeswoman for New York-based AmEx, said in an emailed statement. Berkshire applied to “increase the percentage ownership cap to 24.99 percent from the current 17 percent as a result of our share-repurchase program,” she said.
Berkshire currently owns about 17% AmEx’s stock. That stake is worth around $11.6 billion, as of Thursday’s close.
There’s also nothing stopping Buffett from buying more AXP shares, should it receive permission for the higher stake, although there’s no indication it would do so.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shares were trading at $163.03 per share on Friday morning, up $1.41 (+0.87%). Year-to-date, BRK.B has gained 0.03%, versus a 7.06% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
Meanwhile, American Express Company shares were trading at $76.75 per share on Friday morning, up $0.37 (+0.48%). Year-to-date, AXP has gained 4.47%. AXP currently has a StockNews.com POWR Rating of B (Buy), and is ranked #17 of 39 stocks in the Consumer Financial Services category.